Skip to main content

tv   Capital News Today  CSPAN  October 27, 2011 11:00pm-2:00am EDT

11:00 pm
these services. i appreciate those who have called for a to address these consumer needs today. i agree with you that we need to do more in this area. our broad adoption task force is working diligently to find solutions to these issues and i fully expect we will soon be addressing the proposal in a lifeline preceding to adopt pilot projects for broadband adoption to benefit low income americans qualifies for the late-night program. i look forward to continued work with their task force, including finishing the lifeline proceedings before the end of the year so we can make more headway on the significant issue for the link can consumers. to our viewers and their staff, i thank you for your tremendous and herculean efforts throughout this preceding. i know you have made many personal sacrifices to help us
11:01 pm
reach this moment and i wish to commend you for the result. you planning conducted workshops, reviewed records, this into numerous interested parties in this proceeding, balanced or concerns, crafted the order and accompanied further notice and yes, put up our office. but please know how much we appreciate all of you. i wish i could say right now that we were at the finish line, but this indeed is a marathon. and for those of you who will compete in sunday's race, sadly it will not be me, you have been preparing for months for this milestone that we've reached today. but we are at mile 20. just a little further to go. i for one look forward to continued engagement on the limitation of these reforms. i also want to join congratulating the chairman and my fellow commissioners on today's though.
11:02 pm
the task before us has not been an easy one, but it is certainly one for which i am proud this mission -- commission has finally achieved. commissioner copps and commissioner mcdowell, i know you have both witnessed past attempts at usf and icc reforms and you must be deeply proud today. thank you for diligence and hard work. once again, mr. chairman, i want to express my gratitude for your leadership, engagement and willingness to listen and address my concern and for your honest attempt at reaching consensus. lastly, i would like for you to give me the privilege of acknowledging the hard work of my wire line of cars they are come in cheap on a bird paid her tireless commitment to priorities and willing mix to make incredible personal sacrifices served me and her team well.
11:03 pm
you were able to capture and defend those principles that i hold dear in numerous meetings and exchanges than i wish she's fairly thing you cannot commissioner copps, a marker of a car seat, sharon carroll, victoria, rebecca, in fact. i couldn't say all of them. even though we know who's working, right? and for all of those captured in the slides for your commitment to reform and for your willingness to serve this nation. thank you so much, mr. chairman. this is an incredible day for all of us. >> well, thank you very much, commissioner clyburn. today is indeed a momentous step in our efforts to harness the benefits of broadband for every american. i am tremendously grateful to each of my colleagues on the commission for working hard,
11:04 pm
working together to get this done. the work of the staff has been just incredible and i will have more to say about those than there appears as well. but this is a once in a generation overhaul of universal service, keeping faith with our nation's long commitment to connecting all americans to communication services. we are taking a system designed for the alexander graham bell area of rotary telephones and modernizing it through the air as steve jobs and the internet future he imagined. we are reaffirming for the digital age the fundamental american promise of opportunity for all. we are furthering our national goal of connecting the country to wired and wireless broadband and helping put america on its proper 21st century fighting,
11:05 pm
positioning us to leave the world and a fiercely competitive global, digital economy. infrastructure has always been a key pillar of american economic success. connecting consumers and businesses, facilitating commerce and unleashing innovation. broadband internet is the indispensable infrastructure for 21st century economy. recognizing this fact for years respect the voices have called universal broadband and essential ingredient for american economic competitiveness and job creation. as 2007 report rising above the gathering storm, the national academy of sciences said that accelerating progress towards making broadband conductivity available and affordable for all is critical and they urge government to take the necessary
11:06 pm
steps to meet that goal. in 2010, international broadband plan be correctly called extending wired and wireless broadband to all americans the great infrastructure challenge of the 21st century. last year ibm ceo sam palmisano expressed a view we have heard from other ceos from governors, mayors and from the embers across the country, the employer policymakers to fix the bridges, but don't forget broadband. and he said that a pervasive broad and infrastructure would be a powerful generator of new jobs and economic growth. today building on years of hard work by the sec and on capitol hill and stakeholders outside the agency, this commission is acting unanimously on a bipartisan basis to meet this critical national challenge and bring the universal service fund and intercarrier convent patient into the broad and age.
11:07 pm
our action will enable millions of americans to work, learn and innovate online. it will open new vistas of digital opportunity and enhance public safety. it will create jobs in the near term and lay the foundation for enduring job creation and economic growth in u.s. global competitiveness for years to come. today's reforms that will be intercarrier compensation will bring real benefits to can them or send communities in every part of the country. over the next year, the connect america fund will bring broadband to more than 600,000 americans who wouldn't have otherwise. and the fighters after that, millions more rural families will be connected and today's order process on the path to get broadband to every american by the end of the decade, to close the broad and deployment cap, which now stands at close to 20 million americans.
11:08 pm
we are also extending the benefits of mobile broad and coverage to tens of thousands of unserved road miles, those areas where millions of americans work, live and travel, but better areas of frustration and economic stagnation for so many people today. for mobile connections are needed, but unavailable. for small businesses lose out on customers in productivity, were people in traffic accidents or other disasters can't reach 9-1-1. today we make mobility and independent, universal service objectives for the first time, providing dedicated support to the world's first-ever mobility fund. over the next three years, we will provide almost a billion dollars per year in funding for universal mobility. global is one of the
11:09 pm
fastest-growing and most promising sectors of our economy and having the world's largest market for three g in 4g subscribers will be a key competitive advantage enabling us to lead the world in innovation. new wired and wireless broadband will be a life line for rural communities currently being bypassed by the opportunities of the internet revolution. as a result of what we are doing today, young people who didn't see a future in their small home town would now be able to access a new world of opportunity. entrepreneurs and small towns won't need to move to the big city to live their dreams. instead, small business owners doing everything from selling beef to hunting lodges, like a president tonight in liberty, nebraska wanted to do. they will build to reach customers in the next town, to become a or country and boost their markets, efficiency,
11:10 pm
productivity through services. today's action will empower small businesses that otherwise couldn't exist in small-town america and create jobs and communities. that includes farmers who need rides and to access commodity price information, we'll time weather reports. turner process we heard this from farmers in rural america. today's action will help connect inc. or institution, which can play a vital role in expanding basic digital literacy training so needed in a world where broad skills are necessary both to find jobs and land jobs. today's action has the potential to be one of the biggest job creators in rural america in decades. we estimate theater as a whole will unleash billions of dollars in private sector broadband infrastructure spending in rural america over the next day, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. by empowering millions of more americans to engage in e-commerce, buyers and sellers, the order will grow the size of our overall online marketplace
11:11 pm
and provide a boost for main street business is all over the country, including areas. today's action will change the landscape for students now served by broadband, providing educational opportunity that would otherwise be denied and elements or paris will change the landscape for seniors and people with illnesses providing remote diagnostics to people with no accessory travel hundreds of miles. it will enable parents and now underserved areas to finally connect with children in military service overseas to video chat or other modern communications means that require broadband. each of these are examples of people we met in our proceeding over the last few months who talked about real needs they have today. by constraining the growth of the fund, today's reforms will also minimize the burden these programs placed on all
11:12 pm
consumers, keeping hundreds of millions of dollars in consumer's pockets over the next several years. our overall intercarrier compensation system will gradually eliminate the billions of dollars in hidden subsidies currently paid by consumers across the country through their wireless and long-distance phone bills. our staff estimates the consumer benefits of ict reform will be more than $2 billion annually. consumers will get more value for their money and less waste. this material benefits flow directly from the policy principles of structural reforms would embrace in this order. the reforms implement the idea that government program should be modernized to focus on strategic challenges that today and tomorrow, not yesterday. starting today, usf will be transformed into connect america fund, which will directly take our country's 21st century infrastructure challenge by enabling the are to build
11:13 pm
robust, scalable, affordable broadband to homes, businesses and make her institutions and unserved communities. icc reforms will advance the deployment of modern internet protocol networks and of the telephone network transitions to an ip network, firms in expectation of carriers negotiate in good faith for ip to ip interconnection for voice traffic. today's order recognizes as i mentioned the growing importance of mobile broadband. for the first time, we make mobility and independent universal service object is to take significant concrete steps to meet that goal. also, today's order brings market-based competitive bidding and to universal service support. in a series of waves, including options, restructure distribution of public funds to ensure real efficiency and accountability in both connect america fund and the mobility fund. for the first time, our order puts the fun on a firm budget.
11:14 pm
fiscal responsibility was a principle we announced on day one and a huge vat of this order, protecting the interest of millions of consumers who contributed to the fund every month. we put in place a series of reforms to eliminate duplicate it and other funding where it's not needed and can't be justified. we also had arbitrage schemes to take advantage of gaps, closing loopholes in our rules. faced with many complex and nuanced policy questions, i believe this commission, all of us together have reached the right solutions because we approach the issues the right way. we didn't rubberstamp or adopt wholesale proposals of any stakeholder, but we welcome all proposal, all constructive engagement. instead, we made decisions on what's right for american people in our economy, based on facts and data gathered at one of the most extensive records in sec
11:15 pm
history, including hearing and workshops all across the country. more than 2700 totaling more than 26,000 pages, all of which were reviewed carefully by this incredible team. we are focused on putting consumers first, calibrating policies we adopt to maximize consumer benefit. we've been careful sure that affect the companies face predictable and measured transition paths so that they can keep investing in their networks to better serve consumers and support our economy. we have brought increased clarity to areas of uncertainty, created by tensions between new communication services like voip, voice over internet protocol and our old rules. getting to this point wasn't easy. they required us all to make tough choices about what the
11:16 pm
connect america fund and consumers could not support. it started at a high level. some proposals would require consumers to pay a greater share of the cost of reform or would've increased the size of the fun. that would've put too much burden on consumers during these difficult economic times. some but we should dramatically reduce the size of the fund. that would've left behind millions of americans being bypassed by broadband with no prospect of broadband comic dignity, denying opportunity and economic access to those communities. some would've had us operate as if we were writing a link say, but of course we are not in that would've raised the most disruption, buildout delays another unintended undesirable consequences. getting to this point not only requires tough choices, required engagement of many stakeholders around the country of partners in federal government, states,
11:17 pm
private sector, nonprofit community. i appreciate the broad level of constraint of engagement that made a difference in the result. that constructive engagement very much includes many members of congress on both sides of the aisle who have worked for years to reform and improve universal service and whose ongoing and constructive input is reflected in our action today. there are too many to thank individually in congress, but i am grateful to all of the members of congress who provided input and guidance. the president has been a consistent leader in broadband and the opportunity technology and our actions today help meet national goals of universal access to wired and wireless broadband. i want to thank our state partners who pioneered many reforms we adopt today. moving forward, i am pleased that the states will continue to play a vital role in ensuring consumers are well served by universal service program and in
11:18 pm
other ways. now, very importantly, i am deeply grateful to my fellow commissioners who have worked tremendously hard to make today possible. commissioner copps and powell have been fighting to fix these programs for years and commissioner cliburn's strong experience of the state level in south carolina has been invaluable in our effort from top to bottom, today's order reflects the seriousness of purpose and thoughtful input from each of my colleagues on the commission. it is a better order as a result and on behalf of the american people, i thank each of you. at a time when citizens want solutions, not gridlock, i am proud that commissioners approving bipartisan reform of a broken system that will deliver massive and if it to the
11:19 pm
american people. of course this would not have had without the tremendous work of the expert staff of this agency. without you, we would not be accomplishing today what has been elusive for many years, making reform a reality. our staff is all colleagues have knowledge that not only were tired, they have performed brilliantly. crunching numbers, mastering complex technologies, operating at a world-class policy level. today's order is the project of that tremendous at her. i am not the first person today to say this, but you work makes us proud, fulfills the vision of the expert at the fcc is an expert agency serving our country. there is so many people to think of the saucer that list. each of you sitting here, sharon
11:20 pm
gillett, ruth buchman, carol mattia, carol and i am ruthanne jim and others here have our first conversations by universal service reform 20 years ago. rebecca goodhart, jim schleicher inc., michael stassen, so many others. steve rosenberg, so many others in the wireline bureau, wireless bureau, general counsel's office over the commission. i want to acknowledge the work of the team that worked on a national broadband plan as many of the people here in people who are no longer with the commission for playing an important role in advancing the ball on these reforms in a suit at the café. the staff of each of the commissioners on the eighth floor deserve a tremendous amount of credit for mastering these incredibly complex topics for ensuring a serious collaborative effort.
11:21 pm
i mention the fact that so many people from the eighth floor staff amid euros for here late last night, but that might leave people the impression last night was the only white paper here late. the more important point is that off everyone can remember the last night when you all were here late working on this. and we appreciate that so much. and you have produced a result that you will be proud of for many, many years. i want to particularly salute and applaud my office. the quarterback of this effort, zach, you have ran this process in a way that makes us all proud
11:22 pm
that i think we have all seen how indispensable you are, bringing all this together simply would not have been possible without your work and also the work of all the people who work with you in the chairman's office to make this happen is once again the eighth floor and staff of the bureaus. your leadership, your persistence, your sanity, your calmness and strength under fire in the foxhole. we all honor that and appreciate it very much. the bad news to zach and our team and everyone else's that our work is not yet done. we have implementation work ahead and there'll continue to be intensive engagement with all stakeholders in response to the further notice who adopted a and in the months to come. we still of course is our colleagues have mentioned, face a tremendous challenge in increasing broadband adoption.
11:23 pm
and i'm doing barrier to opportunity in both rural and urban america. while there is no silver bullet for broadband adoption, the lifeline portion of uss can be part of solution including significant broadband pilot programs. i have asked the staff to gear up lifeline reform for action this year. those are not fake smiles on their -- faces. but wait there's more of my colleagues have noted there's work to do on the contribution side is another important to us that topic commission will address. i will leave with a posing thought. in the 1930s and the teen 50s, when president roosevelt and eisenhower directed federal funding to roads, tunnels, bridges and national highway system, they were investing in the then current technologies to connect our people and our
11:24 pm
communities. the same was true for electricity. the same is true for telephones or days. key 20th century universal service achievement. all of those investments have paid truman as dividends for our economy and our country. today, brad and internet truly is the information superhighway, the key connect to the infrastructure of the 21st century. it is what will drive our competitiveness, our economy and brought opportunity for decades to come. our action today is firmly rooted in the sound principles that have served our country well in the past and i am confident it will help deliver a bright future for all americans. with that, let us proceed to it though. all those in favor say aye. [inaudible]
11:25 pm
>> all the supposed they may. the ayes habit in their quest for editorial privileges is granted. and i am asked to make it reminder which under the rule of the sunshine. prohibition and expert date context remain in effect to the full text of her decision is released. undersecretary, please announce our next item. >> hi, chairman paul calla bna. on the issue of contributions, do you expect any slow downs given me here were heading into? >> i think you're asking when will do contributions reform. we haven't announced a schedule yet. we recognize that's an important part of the puzzle. as you can see, we've added teamwork and around-the-clock for the clock for quite some time and we have not set a schedule or agenda for the time being for contributions.
11:26 pm
>> hi, ted with telecommunications reports. there's a lot of speculation perhaps before you even all major decision here that there was going to be some litigation haste on this. in the last few days, there's been a lot of pushback from our lax moral incumbents, specifically singing what they were hearing was going to be included, was not given them the kind of support he needed to transition with the changes being made. i wondered if that was some pain, you know, that was great carefully by you all more than something else and other aspects that began and if that is something you all are worried about going forward. >> i think all the commissioners talked about weighty series of tough choices in a complicated area to make today. our focus was on transforming
11:27 pm
the sold program to bribe and, making sure that it met its goal of getting broad and to conserve americans and to do it in a way that recognized the legitimate needs of existing players. and so, you've heard all of us talk about the importance of transition path for not having flash has. we are all confident that we've made the right set of choices in a series of difficult questions and that our goals will be achieved if the program is out. [inaudible] >> what is your response to complaints that the usf reforms could raise consumers local phone bills as the access recovery charges and subscriber line charge is? >> well, i don't suspect that
11:28 pm
overall consumer rates will go up as a result of disorder as compared to not doing reform. so the reform -- what we are doing today eliminates hidden subsidies that ends up on consumer phone bills. it constrains the growth of the fund. and that growth would've translated directly into increases on consumer phone bills. and of course, over all the reforms today will deliver massive benefits to consumers all over the country by getting broad and to millions of unserved americans, boosting small businesses, particularly in rural america, but all over the country and all the other benefits we talked about today. we think it's not a close call. the consumer benefits from reforms today are very significant. >> deeann inside gss. i noted in the summary it
11:29 pm
includes a provision for wireless and license service -- unlicensed wireless users. could you please address how the reform would relate to light squared, specifically, would they be able to provide services as an unlicensed wireless service provider? what would they be eligible for funding under the mobility fund? >> well, on the unlicensed piece, i will have to get back to you because i am not searching how to answer the question about what the item does with respect to unlicensed, so we would get back to you on that. i apologize. don not
11:30 pm
that's an issue. if you have an accident on the road, that is an issue. if you are at the mine in west virginia that had a terrible tragedy last year, the mine was in a place where there was no mobile coverage so mobility for the first time is being recognized as an objective of the program and as you heard out of the savings of the program that we are generating, we will be creating a targeted mobility funds to meet these objectives. >> hi. mr. chairman wondering if you could take us through your thoughts that lead you to
11:31 pm
increase the broadband speed standards to 6.5 before employing your -- and as a second-tier to bet what happens if your cost models come back and you find out that 6.50 is too expensive? >> obviously we made these decisions based on a lot of data and a lot of facts and work that has been done inside and outside the commission. we did think in planning for universal service not just for the next year but three years beyond that, we needed to find a way to embrace robust and scalable broadband and so the numbers we put in there are our best judgment on, of what our sensible target numbers to hit. they are based on a lot of postulated work that has been done. the final cost model has to come out of a transparent notice and comment process. we expect that to be in the
11:32 pm
range of what we have laid out today. >> hello, jonathan with big con daily. given you have just not talked about being committed to moving on the success of their form 355 and the public file on line can you talk about some of your other near-term media priorities, things that -- >> the first thing i want everyone to do the work on this is to take some time off, but we continue to focus on obviously the implementation work to do on this. broadband adoption which we have been talking a lot about in the past weeks continues to be important. we will continue to pursue job creation initiatives every day. obviously there are spectrum issues and public safety issues ahead of us. we still have a lot of work to do. >> hi. kim hartman with politico. the lifeline and linkup roe rims were also mentioned by both the
11:33 pm
commissioners as reform. do you have any idea of when that might be taken up? >> well, i mentioned today that i asked the bureau to geared up for action this calendar year so that is our goal. is a very similar team to the one working on this and we have to work with the resources that we have that as you have seen, we haven't been waiting on that to tackle the adoption. we have had announcements in the past few weeks on adoption that are very significant that are moving the needle and it is also important to understand that lifeline is -- will be part of the solution on broadband adoption. it can't be the whole solution that we are looking at as part of reform in the lifeline program and the pilot projects to develop ways to determine the most effective ways to close the gap on broadband adoption by using --
11:34 pm
>> there is a lot of talk today about anticipating on the part of the commission the future communication needs of the american consumers. given that wouldn't make sense for wireless or mobile to constitute a larger proportion of the u.s. effort? >> well i think what we have done today on mobile is very significant both in our country's history and also compared to what other countries are doing and identifying the importance of mobility as a universal service goal. the amount of funds that we are putting into that are very significant, and we think we have both found a way to dramatically improve, bring us closer to our goals on universal mobility while also moving
11:35 pm
forward on the goals of getting basic runback -- broadband connectivity back-to-back to people who are unserved and rural a america. we took seriously the constraints that we impose on ourselves of fiscal responsibility. and then one can make an argument for putting more money into a lot of different programs but we were committed to funding this transition to universal broadband to the connect america fund, to the ability fund, out of the existing programs and the current budget. >> as this becomes the federal government's biggest broadband effort ever, how would you assess the success of other federal programs and you believe that this needs to be, that this could be a multiagency effort to fund projects like this, or
11:36 pm
should it lie in one place? >> well, this is, for many many years, we have been committed as a country to universal access to essential services like electricity, like telephone service, and this fund has helped as you heard some of the commissioners say today, bring telephone service up to essential universal rates in the united states and that is good, but of course today and tomorrow's communications infrastructure isn't old analog circuit switched telephone service but modern broadband internet. so transforming this program to broadband makes complete sense. we are doing it in a way that learns lessons from the past because as we all agree here, usf overtime met its goals, but
11:37 pm
also developed its own reasons for reform, and in today's order, we have tackled each of the areas that had been identified as areas where reform is needed to ensure accountability and efficiency in the program. for example for the first time we are bringing competitive knitting into the program. we are eliminating the programs that provide for duplicative support, so we have tried very hard as a commission to learn lessons from the past and make sure this program is accountable and efficient and we have put in place ongoing efforts to make sure that the program remains that way. >> is this a multiagency issue, the use of broadband efforts remained multiagency? >> we are focused on the universal fund, the fund that we administered. >> amy schatz with "the wall street journal." i just wanted to see if you think the fcc is on its tail
11:38 pm
and -- timetable on mobile? >> as you know i won't comment on specific trending -- pending transitions. >> is this something the agency is looking at more now since usf is over? >> as i said i won't comment on pending transactions. >> i don't want to violate the one question rule but i have got one question with two items. is that fair? [laughter] the first is on the broadcast bioitem. does that include the program in the noi? >> we set a goal of taking action on those items in the spring. >> so that would -- you are kind of going to go in li report and order? >> let me -- make the commitment
11:39 pm
i have made is that we will take action on those items by the spring and we will have to work with all of our colleagues to determine what that action is. >> and could you court -- i appreciate that. can you explain a little bit more about your decision on -- since it seems that is the way of a lot of the broadband telephony is going? >> part of what the order recognizes is that communications has to be part of the systems going forward. one of the things the order does today is provide clarity around the role that voip plays, making it clear that as long as there is intercarrier clearing up some of the confusion about whether voip calls should be compensated under that. so i think one of the many benefits of the order we adopted today is that by clearing up this uncertainty, we have removed a disincentive on some
11:40 pm
companies to move toward voip and other digital ip networks. alright everyone, thanks very much. >> in a few moments a hearing with fema director craig fugate. (
11:41 pm
11:42 pm
>> fema director craig fugate says his agency would have had great difficulty responding to weather disasters at the end of the last fiscal year because it was out of money. he testified at a hearing on the emergency management reform bill passed after hurricane katrina. this is about an hour and a half.
11:43 pm
>> good morning. the subcommittee on emergency preparedness response and medications will come to order. the subcommittees meeting today to receive testimony from administrator fugate on the progress fema has made since the enactment of the post-katrina emergency management reform act five years ago. i now recognize myself for an opening statement. i want to welcome administrator fugate to the subcommittee. welcome, sir. we appreciate you appearing before us and i thank you for your flexibility in scheduling this hearing. fema certainly has had a busy year. with a record number of major disasters, declarations, you have responded to tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, wildfires and severe winter storms. a number of members of congress and this committee, on this committee represent areas that were impacted by natural disasters this year and we thank you for all the fema's efforts.
11:44 pm
this hearing is a follow-up on a hearing the subcommittee held in clearwater florida, my district, which of course is in my district as i said. in june, which we receive testimony from state and local emergency management officials and the red cross. the witnesses gave their perspective on the post-katrina emergency management reform act and working with fema and let us know, they let us know what was working well and they gave us their suggestions from proven is that could be made. today we continue that discussion of course with administrator fugate. i'm pleased to note to me -- administrator fugate that your response to these recent disasters has received positive feedback from the members an emergency management officials with whom i have spoken. that is good news and is in some cases due to the authority of the post-katrina emergency management reform act which was
11:45 pm
signed into law just over five years ago on october 4, 2006. i think we can all agree that fema has come a long way since hurricane katrina, but we of course, we know that there is always room for improvement. administrator fugate, i am particularly interested in your assessment of what is working well with fema, what requirements again the post-katrina emergency management reform act could be working better, and what new authorities would enhance your ability to prepare for, respond to and assist in the recovery from disasters. a topic also worth discussing is efforts to mitigate damages to homes and businesses before disaster strikes and i'm pleased that you mentioned this in your testimony, your written statement, as benjamin franklin said and i quote, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of
11:46 pm
cure. that is why i have introduced the hurricane tornado mitigation investment act of 2011 which would provide incentives to individuals and business owners to make improvements to their property that will help mitigate hazards. these efforts can help to reduce loss of life and property damage, speed recovery and also save money in the long run. mr. fugate thank you again for appearing here today and i look forward to your testimony. the chair now recognizes the ranking minority member, ms. richardson from california, for any statement she may have. >> good morning. thank you mr. bilirakis for convening this hearing to evaluate famous progress and implementing the mandates of the post-katrina emergency management reform acts. i would also like to thank administrator fugate for appearing before the subcommittee today and i look forward to hearing your assessment of fema's present
11:47 pm
ability to manage effective emergency preparedness and response efforts. we are here today because just over six years ago, hurricane katrina ravaged the gulf coast and was a sobering test of our comprehensive emergency management system. history reports that fema failed that test and as a nation we learn how ill-equipped the federal government was to manage disaster recovery and response activities. determining who is in charge, who should coordinate federal state and local response efforts, what resources are available and how to acquire needed supplies efficiently was not done well. in the meantime, nation watched television coverage of this horrific disaster. ironically television news crews were able to get to the scene but relief supplies were not. in response, congress enacted the post-katrina emergency reform act although the bill was not perfect. it made much needed changes to our emergency response infrastructure.
11:48 pm
notably a streamlined emergency preparedness and response operation by consolidating all components of a comprehensive emergency management system into the federal emergency management agency. it established a clear chain of command for disaster response activities by giving the federal court navy officer fco statutory authority to head disaster response were nation. directed fema to the administrator -- to administer grants and guidance to state and local governments to improve their preparedness capabilities and it established something that you have been known ford ministry to fugate for implementing. it established 10 regional offices charged with coordinating with state and local governments and non-governmental organizations to develop effective disaster preparedness and response plans. the post-katrina emergency management reform act directed you, administrator fugate, to appoint a disability coordinator to ensure that vulnerable
11:49 pm
populations have access to and knowledge of the means to evacuee emergency housing and any other necessary resources in the event of a major disaster. under your leadership, fema has made progress in implementing the post-katrina emergency management reform acts. for example, you have taken significant steps in implementing the integrated public alert and warning system which i'm a strong proponent of which will facilitate effective public one is regarding future disasters. these warnings will give people like those in american samoa, the opportunity to seek safe shelter in the wake of a major disaster. despite the progress, five years after the enactment of the post-katrina emergency management reform act, significant gaps remain in our comprehensive emergency response system. i am concerned that a combination of budget cuts and other obstacles will hinder our ability to realize their
11:50 pm
preparedness goals. for example another issue of reticular importance to me is one that i would like to address later in my question specifically regarding the disability coordinator and whether that coordinator has the adequate resources to carry out the responsibilities of this act. this coordinator was appointed in june of 2009, however in the full year of 2011 the office of disability coordinator had a budget of just $150,000 i asked about this last year. there was no request for additional funding in the four year 2012 budget request. i'm concerned that this budgetary amount may be declaring a sign of the priorities fema places on the mission of this office. i would be interested to hear your comments on this issue and others regarding as this hearing progresses. again i thank you for being here today and i look forward to your testimony. >> thank you. i now recognize ranking minority member of the full committee,
11:51 pm
mr. thompson. >> thank you very much's -- very much mr. chairman and thank you for holding this hearing to review the post-katrina emergency management reform. a perfect storm is a popular expression. describes the isolated conditions merge to create a radical version of a situation. in the process deep and profound problems are revealed. katrina was a perfect storm. hurricane katrina's devastation of the gulf coast revealed the federal emergency management structure that was disorganized, uncoordinated and seemed uncaring. in the aftermath of the storm, numerous investigations led to suggest changes in the organizational structure and the culture of fema. these changes were not to be mere window dressing. fema clearly needed to find a way to field its mission, improve disaster response and regain the trust of the american people. congress acted and passed the
11:52 pm
post-katrina emergency management reform act. five years after the passage of that legislation, think we can all agree that fema's implementation of the legislation is a mixed bag. improvements were made but challenges remain. i'm pleased that administrative view cadiz here today to report on both the improvements and the remaining challenges. i look forward to hearing his testimony. but before we get to mr. fugate i want to take this opportunity to talk about disaster relief. and i hope that we can all agree that funding for disaster relief should never be held hostage to local ideology. when hurricanes, wildfires strike a community, it does not ask about party affiliation. this is why i was troubled to read that some on the other side of the aisle are now accusing this administration of using the federal disaster declaration process as a way to turn
11:53 pm
low-cost storms into federal disasters. instead of addressing the underlying needs to assure adequate money in the disaster relief fund claims are being made that they act of declaring a disaster is some kind of political gain. they are saying that declaring a disaster is simply a way to drain fema's aid from the federal government. weakening the capacities of the states to respond to disasters and divert fema from preparing for catastrophic events. these are conspiracy theories worthy of a tom clancy novel. so before we begin this hearing let me set the record straight. in 2000 there were 81 mage or disaster declarations. in 2009, there were 59 major disaster declarations and while the numbers are clear, the reasons for the increases are subject to interpretation. there could be more disaster
11:54 pm
declarations that occur because more disasters have occurred. it could also be more disaster declarations occurring because states were stretched thin and budgets are seeking disaster assistance. is unlikely fema is forcing states to take disaster declaration funding but whatever the reason given the increase in disaster declaration, a compassionate congress will hear the cries of those who have lost everything and provide help. instead of this congress who has called for fiscal discipline. fema's budget for management and prepared his programs have decreased. famous management budget was reduced by $10 million between fy2010 and fy2011. famous pre-disaster mitigation fund was cut from 100 million in fy2010 to 50 million in fy2011. famous grand program director was cut from $4.165 billion in
11:55 pm
fy2010 to 3.38 billion in fy2011. this is a situation that is not sustainable. as we move forward and i'm hopeful we can focus on the facts and provide to help the people in the united states truly need. mr. chairman i thank you for calling today's hearing and i yield back. >> thank you mr. thompson. other members of the subcommittee are reminded opening statements may be submitted for the record. i'm pleased to once again welcome administrator fugate. of course before our subcommittee today. mr. fugate was appointed by president obama to serve as the administrator of the federal emergency management agency and was confirmed by the united states senate on may 13, 2000. prior to coming to fema mr. fugate served as the director of the florida division of emergency management, a position he held for eight years. mr. fugate began his emergency management career as a volunteer firefighter emergency paramedic
11:56 pm
and finally as a lieutenant with the alachua county fire and rescue. mr. fugate and his wife came from gainesville florida. administrator fugate your entire written statement will appear in the record. i ask that you summarize your testimony please and you are now recognized. >> thank you mr. chairman and ranking member richardson and ranking member thompson. staff spent a lot of time coming up with a bunch of facts and figures on how we have gotten better and how we have improved on the post-katrina reform act and as i read it like kind of took me -- approach later today. we have done a lot but we stuff a lot to do so i want to focus on what i think are the key elements of the post-katrina emergency management format and how they play out in the last couple of years that i've been here in response to disasters. i think one of the key things that came out of that act was we were able to move away from utilizing only the stafford act as a tool to look at how we prepare and respond to disasters.
11:57 pm
that is important because if you look at the stafford act you must wait until you have a request from the governor. it has to go through the process and determine whether or not to declare a disaster and then he began the elements of that response. but as we saw with the train and as we have seen another disasters up and down the seaboard this year, across numerous river floods they reached record, if you wait until it's that bad their response will take time. and this is one of the things really i think we have spent a lot of time and fema trying to educate our own staff on staff that we no longer -- the stafford act. it it is not enabling legislation. it establishes fema. it establishes our mission. it establishes or structures including the regional office rupture. it clearly defines many activities that we are to engage in and prepare for and recover responded mitigate activities. but i think it is most important that we recognize that access
11:58 pm
and the likelihood an event would be declared or potentially require federal assistance, the federal government must not wait until the governor requests or identifies they are overwhelmed. it says we shall be prepared and we will begin response with the tools that we have including the ability to use as ranking member thompson spoke about disaster relief funds. prior to the president getting a formal request from the government. this may seem rather bureaucratic but i think it is important that if you wait until you know how bad something is to begin response, you have lost time. you have to be able to respond to those events that will likely require federal assistance by anticipating these and not waiting for the formal assessments and are waiting until the full impacts or realize. other aspects of that allows us to do things such as pre-staging teams or equipment in areas we think we'll need help. when you look at what happened with hurricane irene, we were actually starting down on the
11:59 pm
virgin islands and in puerto rico and then as it approached the u.s. east coast everywhere from florida to maine inland as we saw in vermont were potentially going to be impacted by this hurricane. we didn't wait until the state had made formal request for assistance. we were able to send teams to link up with the states and began working on the preparations in decisions about evacuations and sheltering. and not wait until they are hit and then ask for help. that ability to get teams in place to have equipment pre-staged, to really work across the federal enterprise with their state partners as they are supporting local governments, integrating our volunteers faith-based and community-based organizations. i think really starting to be able to integrate the private sector reticular lee, those sectors that provide goods and services so we are not duplicating what they do best to focus on the areas where they are either expecting significant outages or challenges. that response sped up. in many cases the time from when an incident occurred to actual
12:00 am
results happening. people on the ground and resources were available. i think this is one of the things i really continue to focus on is the post-katrina emergency reform act gives us speed, not haste but speed in responding to ensuring we get resources in there. i would be remiss if i said this was entirely a fema effort and that much of the response we saw pretty early in the tornadoes across the southeast and in the missouri area from joplin what wetzel what people saw -- all of that response was generated through state and local resources mutual aid. ..
12:01 am
>> we were able to focus on the recovery challenges, so if anything else, we sped up the process and work as a better integrated team to focus on the survivors and local communities with a clarity that we don't have to wait until everybody is overwhelmed before we begin the response. >> thank you very much. i have a couple questions, so i'll recognize myself for five minutes. >> again, fema has made strides in capability since hurricane katrina. i know you addressed some of this. what lessons have we learned from more recent disasters about
12:02 am
gaps in our preparedness and response capabilities, and what additional authorities do you need to further fema's response and capacity? >> i'm not sure yet about additional authorities, but there's areas we are working on, and this comes back to the technologies. we've been working aggressively with the geospatial nga in providing us better information. our ability to get information before people get on the ground to begin describing impacts helps all the team make better decisions in early response. this is an area where we have a tendency to wait until we're down there in an area to get information or waiting for things to come up through official channels when they are busy responding, and two things we're focused on -- how do we get information from various types of platforms, but on the other hand, how do we get information from the public? this is what i'm seeing more and more from in the benefits of the recent disasters. oven times, --
12:03 am
oftentimes we got faster and more accurate information with people using social media and local news media with reporters on the ground sending uplinks. i'm seeing 5 lot of damage, we can go. how do we do this in a way to get the information out that's actionable and smeed up that response? the faster we can adjust to the issues, the better our response is. it's one of the challenges we look at, you know, how does the public share information? how are they communicating? do we listen? we combine that with the capabilities that we now have working with nga on now to use better geospatial information to put together a better operating picture to respond faster. >> good. as part of the national preparedness system, pbna, to
12:04 am
respond to disasters, as part of this requirement fema introduced the process of reviewing the national response frame work. what's the status of the review, and what's fema's role in the development of the other frame works, and what is the status of that effort? >> status is ongoing. we have various delivery dates 245 are published. the national disaster recovery frame work was in inception when ppda was developed, so it conformed to meet the requirements as one of the elements of the frame work. the other frame works will be updated as we go through the process of implementing ppda. fema's been charged by the national security staff and secretary napolitano for the coordination role, but some of the roles are managed by other agencies focused on those activities, but we have the overall responsibility for
12:05 am
coordinating all documents and frame worked under ppda. >> thank you. are there, this year, the subcommittee held a hearing on the i pause program 24 ranking member richards mentioned it, and i'm also a supporter. we heard from assistant min stater about the plans of the implementation of the personalized local alerting network. please provide an update on the status of the plan and when you and chairman and major blackberg unvailed the program in new york city this summer, the intent was for the plant to be operational in new york and washington, d.c. by the end of the year. are we on track for that? how's the cooperation between the fcc and fema has been through this process? >> well, let me start with the cooperation of the fcc. the chairman and i worked on this including other activities
12:06 am
like the national emergency test. there's a lot of activities we have a good partnership in working and they are dealing with licensed carriers and the broadcast industry and we work with the user groups and the warning systems. as far as i know, things are on track. one of the things i hoped we are seeing is there's a time frame for industry to adopt as we published the rules, the technology to do the plans so you had the personal location capabilities and cell phones. we're seeing industry adopt to stha that'ser, and -- to that faster, and they'll exceed a lot of the deadlines, but i'll get an update of the status on those. >> please do. i'm interested. i know the ranking member is too. i yield five minutes to the ranking member, representative richards. >> yes, thank you, mr. chairman. as i said administrator fugate, in each region is there a
12:07 am
disability -- is there a person responsible for disability coordination? >> as far as i know, i think we've finished hiring the last one. several of them, in fact, in all of the recent disasters, they have been deployed and they were deployed into joint field offices. the recent hire in region four, based in atlanta, was deployed into north carolina which was a tremendous asset in helping us work with the hard of hearing and deaf communities. >> is that person's sole responsibility in each region? >> their primary responsibility. again, we remind ourselves we're all emergency managers doing what we have to do during disasters, but their primary responsibility is preparing and recovering mitigation and being inclusive in the programs. not only externally, but we look at internally our own practices to be inclusive from meetings to just accessibility of the buildings. >> what else are the individuals responsible for?
12:08 am
>> i would not be aware of any addition thal specific taskings, but i can get that in writing. >> okay. what i want to know specifically is there a specific person responsible for disability and coordination in each reason, and if so, what percentage of our work is inclusive in doing that, and are there other work, and what is that, and how much time does that take? the disability coordinator has a budget of approximately $150,000. what's used for that? >> i'm not sure that's the full extent, and i don't know how we'ring thing -- we're accounting for it, but we held a hearing on that, and the chairman spoke at that. we deployed the folks out, did training, guidance, so one of the things i need to look at is this reflective of all the money we're spending across various programs, or is this just one part of that? i want to respond in writing to
12:09 am
get you the full accounting of the total staffs assigned to the offices, all the resources we pull from other elements. i did not ask for a line item. we took it from activities we're doing and focused on disability integration and basically got different parts of fema to provide the resources. >> okay. we look forward to that in writing. as you know, i represent semilla, what emergency system do they have there working right now? >> as last i knew, we were going through the testing phase of the allen wide siring system, that was one of the concerns we had after the tsunami, but they had not carried out and implemented the warning system for the island. my understanding is it's been going through the test. i don't know if we certified it yet, but that was to address the issue of not having island wide warning system, that occurred when they were hit with the tsunami in 2009. >> okay.
12:10 am
the federal warning alert services identified a need to increase the training for emergency managers of the critical area to address. what status have you taken to increase training for managers with i pause, and further, i want to build upon, it's my understanding that there's a test of the emergency alert system scheduled for november 9, 2011. i understand the test is not a pass/fail, but i'm interested in knowing the performance of the system and how it's evaluated. can you speak to that? >> i'll ask damon to provide you an update on training. i know thief -- they've been working on it, and regarding the national emergency alert test, this is the first test outside of alaska of a emergency alert notification, which would be a presidential notification since the creation and all the emergency alert system, it has never received a national test, so this will be
12:11 am
the first time we'll actually begin the activation as an emergency action notification from the white house as the origination, and we utilize this to look at how the system premples and how that message is carried out. because this is a legacy system, it does not have a test function. we're using the actual alert notification message, and it's important to remind people that on the test date this is just a test, we're working with the fcc and the broadcasters to ensure that, but this will be the first time a historic test of the system on a national basis. >> mr. pho gait, i just want to say -- fugate, we can all make changes, but you've been proactive and visible on television providing updates and reports, and i think it's been a huge change, and i want to thank you personally for your work. >> thank you.
12:12 am
>> i yield back. >> i recognize the ranking member of the full committee, mr. thompson for five minutes. >> thank you very much. i want to echo the sentiments of ms. richardson. i've been here pre-katrina, post-katrina, and i've seen a different fema. obviously, it's always a work in progress, but i'd never seen you, as an administrator, not address whatever problems you were presented with, and i thank you for that. just for the record, mr. fugate, just so the public understands that a declaration of from the presidential level is only after the state and local requirements
12:13 am
based on some kind of request have been made. can you just kind of walk us up that chain? >> yes, sir. this goes back to under the stafford act. only the governor of the state is authorized by the president to declare a disaster declaration, and that's based upon the governor certifying that that event overwhelmed state and local capabilities. we look at impacts on a per capita basis for public assistance to determine part of that, but it's not the sole determination. it can oftentimes be based upon the significant impacts of what the trauma is to a community. in addition, we look at individual systems again. it is not based on a home owner's destruction. it is based upon the overall impact to the state, and it is based upon the size of that state, so you will see disasters declared in much smaller states because of the population, and in a much larger state, you
12:14 am
assume there's more resources to deal with that 6789 it's not based upon a knew mare call performance for that assistance. it's based upon the governor certifying this exceeds their capabilities and are requesting the president to declare it a disaster. >> thank you. so the president on his own by law can do it without the necessary requests from that governor? >> the president has some limited abilities, but in most cases, and all the disasters we have dealt with, the only time that we have responded to is when a governor made that request. >> thank you. >> if, in fact, fema in its prepositioning and mobilization efforts was limited in doing so based on some standard of
12:15 am
offset, what would that do to fema's ability to respond to a wild fire, hurricane, or tornado if an justify set had to be identified before you would be able to move? >> to be honest, sir, i'm looking at the balance of the drf and how the money gets there and now that's secondary. what i saw as we approach of the end of our current fiscal year last year, our response funds dropped to a level that we would have been extremely compromised in the ability to respond to a no-notice disaster like an earthquake. we looked at what the various options were, but when that balance drops below a certain amount, and that amount is oftentimes, you know, up to about a billion dollars, when you look at the cost of the response to some of the large scale threat this country faces w4r it's earthquakes in california or major hurricane making land fall in tampa or up
12:16 am
in new york, response costs 1 not in tens or hundreds of millions, but it can be in the billions of dollar, and our national exercise this year on the earthquake, initial response cost estimates we're at $1.5 billion. when you have a fund of only $100 million at the end of the year, it begs to question, mr. chairman, how do we respond to the next catastrophic disaster in that's the greatest concern. we should not look for the disasters that's been declaredded, but the funds needed to respond to the next no-notice disaster to be prepared for. >> to what extent have you directed your staff to close out a past disaster still on the books 1234 >> we've taken a tiered approach in our first goal of looking at open mission assignments that they complete
12:17 am
the, but still had fun balances. we closed that out. the next step, sir, versus closing out the entire disasters is looking at projects completed and the statings were no longer drawing funds against, but had outstanding balances in the obligations and working with the states, we were able to deobligate those dollars, and that was over a billion and a half to recover in the past year. we expect about another billion in the next year approximately is what we're looking atment as we get to the recoveries, we'll look at the older disasters that still require a financial reconciliation. there's no more money, but we need the finalize to close them out, but the first goal was to gets money that was obligated but enoughs -- but was not going to be used so we could pay for more recent disasters. >> thank you. just for the record, can you provide the committee with a report on those disasters that are still open and whatever
12:18 am
thing thing is? >> yes, sir. >> i yield back. >> thank you. i recognize the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. marino, for five minutes who was hit by the storms. thank you. >> director, it's good to see you geep. yes, we were affected by the storm in pennsylvania, but i thank you and your staff. we had communications in the hurricanes and irene, and i see pat sitting behind you, and he's a trooper. he was on the phone with me a dozen time when we needed water or food and strategic changes made, and i want to thank him for the service he provided. i have your cell phone number, and i'm still going to take advantage of it. you brought up a good point on being notified, and just briefly going through how important it is for states to be in tough
12:19 am
with fema so you can get on the ground running, and there's many indications you didn't have that in cay treen new -- katrina. there's indications that just the requests were not asked or asked for in time. how important is it? >> i think it's absolutely critical of all the lessons i learned over history is when dealing with these events, and i'll break it into two pieces -- those we deal with with recoveries and those in active response like irene. it's really hard to be effective if you're identifying yourself as a local state or fema federal person. you have to work as one team, so to get in there quickly, work as one team, be responsive in anticipating needs versus waiting for things to be so bad that you are overwhelmed. that's one of the hallmarks of the post format is really getting rid of the artificial
12:20 am
divisions saying, look, when it hits that level, we have to work as one team, and it's not something we're literally passing paper up the food chain to get an answer. we should be able to work together and solve problems quickly. >> okay. do you have the authority that you need now post reform act to step in, even if a state fails to request for whatever reason, and say, look, we're -- we see this as a disaster, and we need to come in and assist you in doing preventative measures. do you have that authority as far as you're concerned? >> we can do quite a bit without a former request from the governor to preposition supplies, move resources in, but the i don't know if it can address this because that's a constitutional question. as we reserve the police powers for the states in article 10 of the constitution, we can take some actions, but, again, it's better to have the teams in there with the state and work to the challenges behind the doors to get things done versus
12:21 am
waiting until people fail, so i would say that our goal is to get there early, work with the state, anticipate needs, not wait on the request, advise and help and get to a better decision faster. >> i'll support you, and if we need more legislation, i'll take the lead on that with you as well. we did a lot of things right in iran the last few weeks and over the months, and in my district is an example of it and i've never seen them work so closely together, but tell me what we realized from this last round? what was not effective and what can we do differently? >> well, i'll pick on one aspect of that bus it's going to come up and particularly dealing with flood events, is looking at the national flood insurance program. one of the challenges is we have communities who have chosen not
12:22 am
to participate in the flood insurance program and they get flooded. that limits our ability to help people. we hold individuals responsible for not adopting the flood insurance program, and it puts us in a bind where people are flooded, had losses, and their neighboring communities get assistance, but they can't because their community didn't adopt the program. to me, it would make sense to put the burden on the local governments to look at their assistance rather than the individual assistance. our goal here is to get people at risk to purchase insurance and have that protection so the taxpayer doesn't have to pay for flood damages, but it's an area that's difficult. it's why we have to send out remittances and we have to ask for the money back. that is a very difficult proposition in getting to that
12:23 am
point. >> right. look, i know you need the funding. i was one that stood up in the house and said, look, let's not argue what's going to happen here, and just get the funding out, and my district appreciated it. there's a enough inefficient agencies here in dc that deserve to be cut and those funds we can make certain that you have and so you can serve so well as you have in the past. thank you so much. i yield back. >> thank you. i recognize the gentleman from michigan, mr. clark, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. fugate, i appreciate you being here. i represent metropolitan detroit including the city of detroit also including the northern border with canada. a couple questions. my first deals with promoting inner operatability among communications with our first
12:24 am
responders as well as with our federal officials along with our canadian counterparts. let me illustrate that. according to one of our local law enforcement first responders, a few years ago there was an accident on the detroit river. that first responder had a hard time communicating to the coast guard about it, and in turn, none of them could notify their canadian counterparts. as a result of the new law in 2008, fema established a disaster emergency community cations division -- communications division. particularly, how does this division help coordinate response on the northern border or could be used to coordinate response in the northern border in a way that would foster inoperable communications with first responders and their
12:25 am
canadian counter parts and the federal authorities? >> starting with the disaster emergency communication function. i think it does two things. one, it helps bring in and reestablish communications to local and state jurisdictions that have lost it in disaster, but an important element is helping states develop their communication plans. again, i'll be honest with you, those are state centric. it's interesting. it's something janet napolitano is working across the enterprise in dhs is looking at cross border issues that are transnational, but first responders see them across the river. how do you get better integration there? i know we're working with you on this, but it's an area i want to take back to janet napolitano as a concern you raised and look alter how the plans which are focused on the states could be tied into more activities at dhs, particularly with the coast guard, immigrations and customs,
12:26 am
and the others working cruet the border -- across the border because we know first responders are, and that's an area we'll go back to the secretary saying this is an area where committeings can work closer and there's other areas where we can work with our counter parts. >> thank you very much. one other question dealing with how can we best prepare citizens who are struggling right now financially to be prepared in case there's a disaster? you know, in the city of detroit, our city, our region, we've lost more jobs, more people, more homes than any other city or region in the country over the last ten years, so in downtown detroit in particular we have many people that have special needs who may be physically challenged, you know, get around with wheelchairs or other type of devices to help them with their
12:27 am
mobility. we have folks struggling every day just to provide for their own basic needs just financially, just don't have the money to do so, so how can fema help better prepare individuals who are struggle right now to be able to be prepared for a disaster? >> well, not to sound trite about this, but i think we often times make the entry level of being fully prepared so expensive that even people of means look at this saying if i brought everything on the list brand new, that would cost hundreds of dollars. we want to go back and start out with basic questions. i think this is again your office and forecasts helping sort this out. you don't have to make sure you have everything, but start with the basic thing. do you have a family communication plan? we know for a lot of folks, they don't have, they are mobile, they use mobile communication devices, cell phones, nothing else. do they have a plan of what to
12:28 am
do -- because we saw here in the earthquake, you cannot get dial tone, but do you have a back up plan to text message or points to say if i can't get to you, there's a point we can meet. it's the basic steps of developing your family communication plans and how to let friends. and family know where you go if you can't get home, and those initial steps are a proprocess. wears sensitive to the fact, and this is something we're working on is durable medical goods and other supplies needed for people who have additional resource needs, and we're focused on making sure we're inclusive on the front end and dealing with people who need additional resources when a disaster strikes. >> thank you. i recognize the gentleman from the great state of texas. >> thank you. administrator fugate, we've been
12:29 am
plagued in texas from wild fires in the past year. whiled fires are one that can be mitigated while they are going on, so i have a two-part question for you to begin with. first, can you outline what fema's responses has been to the wildfires in texas, and how has fema and the federal government as a whole cooperated on bringing the resources necessary to mitigate those fires as they go on and afterwards? >> well, the two pieces of this starting with the last one first because the lead agency for coordinating federal assistance is u.s. fire service, forestry service, agriculture, through the inner agency, and we support them there. on the other side, the financial side of this, is the issuing of fire grants as well as a major presidential declaration of
12:30 am
disaster with the fires damaging homes. what's happening in texas though, the wildfires are a symptom. we have a sustained long period draught that is not ending, and one of the challenges that i'm finding that i experienced in florida that our farm management grant programs are designing very large centralized fires, and what we have in texas and a lot of little fires and if they are not knocked down quick, grow to be big fires. there's ongoing activity in texas by volunteer fire departments not tied to the grants, and i've asked my straff to look at the issues, but my concern in texas is this is not a situation that is improving, and it's not a fire by fire, but the underlying draught and until it breaks, my concern is the wild fire situation in texas will be active, and that we have to continue to look at tools and the process with the u.s. forest
12:31 am
service as well as the financial service through managements and grants. >> short of praying for rain, i'd appreciate if you or your staff can get with my office to see what, if anything, can be done to improve that situation. i want to move to the eas for a second and shift gears. you have the test coming up. i was in broadcasting since i was 16 years old. i see firsthand the flaws of the ebs and what's evolved into. is fema looking with the add vents of new technologies like cell phones, text message, and the internet coming up with a new technology to either replace or supplement eas? >> yes, in fact, that was some of the remarks that our ranking member and chairman talked about with i pause, the integrated public warning and alert system. it's taking advantage of newer technology and icing a common
12:32 am
warning protocall to go across all devices. part of this is working with the fcc where personal location alert notifications are geographically tagged to your phone based upon your location swealings the ability to now operate across a lot of technologies. >> my concern with that, and as we saw in the earthquake here, the cell phone network, especially in times of disaster is substantially more fragile than we'd like to believe. >> that's correct. again, if we with r trying to -- if we were trying to use the cell phones for the way you do voice traffic, it would not work, but cell phones are also radios, and the cell towers have functions to send one-way transmissions to, and that's the benefit of that. the other benefit is rather than alerting everybody in an area, we can specify those areas that are geocoded to the threat, so when there's a tornado, we can give a -- >> is that based on tower
12:33 am
location or gps from the phone or both? >> based upon the phone knowing where it's at. we don't track that information. it just tells everything in that tower area to alert, and it doesn't track the actually phones. the phones are self-aware, but the system doesn't monitor the phones, just broadcasts to that specific area. >> all right. i appreciate your responses. thank you for being here, and thank you for your hard work, and i'll yield back. >> thank you. i'd like to recognize the gentle lady from new york for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. we're talking about personal notification systems, mr. administrator, how you can give information to the public. what troubles me in this century is that the public is not able to send a 9-1-1 text messaging to public safety dispatchers whether it's in a natural disaster, whether it's a situation we had in virginia tech where there's children, young students in a lock down situation, and they are sending 9-1-1 messages out there on
12:34 am
their phones believing fully they are going to be heard, and we don't have the capability. i find that to be a national embarrassment permly, and i'm not casting any blame, just how do we solve that? i'm talking to people at fcc sometimes they say it's going over at homeland security, and they say it's fcc. what's preventing that? it's something, that you know, there's a generation, probably from my age on down or lower than me down where the expectation is that when they send 9-1-1 on the cell phone, it's received by somebody in a position to help them. sadly, that's not the case in america today. >> i'm going to ask my staff to have the fcc respond back in writing. i share your concerns. i know that the fcc's been working on next generation 9-1-1 looking at pilot programs of how you can start taking and text messages and other types of social media. one of the challenges is the system was not design wed that as this technology's come on board, so i know the fcc's been
12:35 am
looking at preliminary rule making. they are looking at several pilots, and i'll ask the staff to work with the fcc to respond jointly back to you what they are looking at in the next generation of 9-1-1, which they are anticipating how do you adapt to the known, but also the emerging technologies that we may not quite understand. again, it's a common idea, and you pointed it out. we have to adapt the way the public communications, and not enforce the delayed systems. that's one of the challenges moving forward. >> i appreciate your attention to that and i urge you to make a priority because in disasters or lock down situations or when the public needs help, they assume they reach us. we had a situation where gunshots were fir -- fired in a high school, and 50 kids sent 9-1-1 messages, and they thought they were received. i would like this b to be a major priority. i think it's a tremendous help. i think -- if you talk about pilot programs, i'll sign
12:36 am
upright now. i sat down with my public dispatching operations throughout the seven counties, they they are ready to do it. they just need the resources. i commend you on your attention. you have so many issues in the country to pay attention to, so many disasters, unexpected, and i want to make sure we don't lose sight of assistance requested in new york state in the spring, and i can give you copy again today because this is from the new york delegation asking for assistance, if you could please commit to reevaluating the governor cuomo's request to reverse jr. denial of assistance to areas flooded in the spring because i have farmers never to be whole again, and the economy relies on my farmers hairesting and -- harvesting and taking it to market. you have the toughest job in america with all the different disasters coming your way whether it's the fires in texas. who would have thought upstate new york is victim to an
12:37 am
earthquake, a hurricane, and tornado within a couple weeks. we're living in seems like unprecedented times, but i hope you're up to the task. i'm sure you are, and if there's anything we can do to assist you, we're part partners in assisting the american people. >> thank you. >> i yield back. >> if it's all right with administer, this is such an important topic, we have time for a second round, so i'd like to begin. i recognize myself for five minutes. >> as part of your effort to engage in the whole community, and i commend you for that, you included a rotating seat for the private sector of the national response center. how is that working? >> it's working very well, and not only are we getting the private sector seat in there, but we're looking at some of the things that speed up our ability to see what they see such as getting the point of the major big box stores, recognizing they don't provide everything, thaw it's a good indicator of how
12:38 am
areas are impacted giving us live data so we can see what's going on. we saw this dealing w-9s ice storm this year. hard to remember that far back we had the ice storm across the central u.s. and in the northeast, but they were literally giving us updates on the statuses in realtime as we were making decisions about where we may be generating stuff. we saw this in puerto rico when irene the hit. there's reports of flooding, but they came back giving statuses of stores, grocery stores, hardware stores saying the bulk of the island's primary services were in tact, and our focus was in flooding of towns that were destroyed, and that realtime information made us more comfortable with the decision that the governor's request was for more resources, but focus on the recovery to shift those attention now to the east coast, to the united states. without that information, we'd been a little bit concerned that we didn't have all the
12:39 am
information, and what if we didn't send the supplies, would we get behind? retailers said they were up and running, the airport's up, and that information coupled with the governor request made sense, and we shifted the resources now to the east coast. >> the follow-up, the emergency managerring spoke up to see this engagement with the private sector as a positive step, but expressed concern about the ps prep program, and their concern where while there's a structure in place with a program, there's yet to be an incentive with participation with the private sector recognizing that ps prep is a voluntary program. what can be -- what can we do to better engage the private sector and encourage them to take steps to enhance a preparedness? >> to be honest, mr. chairman, again, i think when that program was starting out, we were looking at the private sector as getting the certification to be able to sit at the table.
12:40 am
what we found is there shouldn't be an entry requirement to be part of the team. they are doing it already. we need to work closer. i think ps prep going through an evolution, and i'll ask my staff to come back to you with specifics, but i think one of the things i've learned in the process is oftentimes when you start programs with good intentions, we mind we may be are not going the way we thaw we were going and need to reassess. this is a continued area of how do we reassess the area to get better participation and recognizing there's some entities not participating there, but still want to be part of the team and responds and recover from disasters. >> okay, yeah, i think if you have suggestions for us as well, we can work with our con stitch wents, i think that that -- constituents, i think that would be beneficial as well. i'm interested in your assessment of the national exercise 11. what are the main concerns from
12:41 am
the exercise? how are we sharing these lessons with the state, local, private, tribal and other levels? >> that's a large exercise in the short time i have. i'll give written responses, but i want to point out one thing that i have not had the opportunity to talk about, but it's a tremendous improvement in our capability, and that's the resolution of the issue of applying federal forces to a state, particularly active duty forces when the governor has their national guard on state active duty and running the realities of how do you manage that? under a program that was initiated by congress forming the council of governors to work with the national guard and governors as well as the department of defense, we have what's called duel status commanders, and this is a program that's been enthuse yat tickly supported by north com and the department of doves to take flag officers in almost now all of the states, train them as
12:42 am
dual status command where they can now command at the request of the governor and the designation by the secretary of defense and the president, command boast state active duty national guard and title 10 forces under one commander, not having two separate joint task forces, and in the national exercise, this showed that the ability to bring in federal forces in support of the state along with their national guards active duty minimized confusion and the duplicity of having multiple joint task forces operating in the same state, so i think this is one of the things that we were able to look at and exercise, but i think it's one of the huge unharrelled milestones in the country of resolving once and for all the issue of how we bring active duty forces to the governor in a way that does not dupe kate or -- duplicate or copy what they do through the national guard and work as one team. >> very good. thank you.
12:43 am
ranking member is recognized for five minutes. thank you. >> thank you. mr. chairman. i need to cock back to the eas -- come back to the eas test. that that include all the tear tears and state -- territories and states? >> my assumption is yes. it's an activation of the emergency alert notification that's a presidential and national message. it should go out through all of the systems, but i'll verify that. we have done two separate state tests 234 alaska to -- in alaska to test the system, but this is the first time it's activated across the entire country, and i'll verify the territories. >> if not, are you committed to including them? >> absolutely. if it's not, it has more to do with the legacy systems than by any intention, and this is one of the things we hope as we move to get pass the limitations in the existing infrastructure. >> okay. when we were talking about
12:44 am
american and their alert system test, was this one in the same or were they having a separate test? >> this was is separate test of the outdoor warning system, a key component when the tsunami warning center issues a warning, there was no outdoor warning systems in so it was a testing of that system. >> has that already occurred 1234 >> i'll have to get back to you. i know they were doing it, but i don't know if they completed the test or signed off on it. i really don't have that right now. >> if you could supply us the results of that. >> yes. >> back to the eas, as i said, i don't believe it includes a pass or fail. in particular, can you tell us how the data is gathered? what will be the gaps in performance identified and improvements to the system made, and is there a specific time line that you have associated with it? >> the actual test itself will be looking at all of the primary entry points for the system, activate the local primaries,
12:45 am
and how many of the stations that are supposed -- one of the things about the emergency alert system is it's always voluntary except when a presidential notification o -- occurs. in is the only one that trips everything because it's designed to automatically engage all of the retransmit functions, so the test will be how far did it go and where were there gaps or breaks in the chain of notifications. it starts a chain of primary entry points that set off their tones then activating other receivers. this is the one function build in that broadcasters are optioned on everything else and can be manual and delay, but this is the first time all the systems go through. the first part is did that happen and were there breaks? the other part will be as it went out, did we see any difficulties? we already know of some issues 245 are germane to the legacy systems that will be a challenge with this p on the phone: okay. i apologize. i have two minutes.
12:46 am
will your assessment include improvements to be made? >> yes, and some -- >> sorry. just that. do you have a specific time line when you anticipate giving us the report? >> deferring back to david to give you an update and when we'd have the report. >> three quick questions -- >> i'll give you more time. >> okay. he's going to give me more time. one of the issues i found is they owed prior money to the government, and therefore because of that, they were hesitant of extending on additional services beyond the initial whatever it was, 72 hours. have you established a new process or had a discussion of how to deal with maybe states or territories that might have a past due situation? >> the issue of those that still owe money from previous disasters or previous grant programs is one we're looking at the recruitment process there
12:47 am
and how to go forward. it's going to be a challenge. there's other territories facing the same situation. i'll respond back in writing, but it is, again, similar to other recruitment processes where if the money under ig oring or accounting offices finds money is owed back, we'll have to tie it to another reduction in funding. >> if you can supply to the committee who owes, how much they oh, and what's the process of paying it back. last two questions. twice now, there's been colleagues bringing concern about the usc grants, and whether the b the funding should be in deers levels. can you share your feed back why you think it should stay the same or change? >> again, we presented the options to secretary janet napolitano, she made the decision with reduced funding could no longer all the cities on the list and focus those in
12:48 am
the top tier based on a variety of information we used in making those decisions. given the amount of funding, that will be the continued recommendation as we present to her this year as we look at this year's appropriation with reduce funding decision to fully fund the top tiered cities rather than reducing funding across the board. >> if i hear you correctly, if we're not to reduce funding which some advocated for, we might have a better ability to asis all cities? >> that's an option to look at, yes, ma'am. >> okay. my last question is for year 2012, the proposed level of funding is less than half the amount that congress appropriated two years ago for year 2010. the congress appropriated a total of $4.17 billion for first responders. further, if hr20 # 17 is enacted by congress, the grant funding will have been reduced by almost 60% within two fiscal cycles.
12:49 am
how do you plan on addressing these cuts and to ensure the regions have the adequate resources 1234 i i want you to know i'm asking this on the record and will bring it back up when we discuss things like cutting and what i believe are unreasonable levels. >> well, the short answer is is that with these reductions in fundings, we're looking at what to do to maintain current capabilities built with the dollars and putting emphasis on those items and teams that are more critical to the national interest and of national capabilities which means not everything's going to be funded, and there may have to be decisions about what is not supported, but looking at things that are really designed to be of a national interest and have capabilities to support the national threats. again, as we saw with the mutual aid and past disasters, we know making sure that regional mutual aid through state directed responses is the most effective use of these resources, so
12:50 am
looking at how we can leverage regional response capabilities with fewer dollars. >> if you can provide to the committee in light of the proposed cuts, what you view falls within the national reel -- realm of being of national interest and what potential things could be cut if we have to operate at the levels you've been begin. >> we will do that. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you. i recognize the gentleman from mississippi, the ranking member of the full committee, mr. thompson. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. fugate, will you comment on your efforts to get fema to start buying locally in disasters and whether or not that effort has rendered a positive result. >> yes, sir. early on when i got to fema, one
12:51 am
of the things we found is we found a lot of national contracts, a one size fits all. it's easy to administer, but it resulted in us buys resources and bringing them outside the disaster area when they already there in the community. after several disasters after what i observed in haiti, i realized one of the flaws in the system by doing that is we are not putting money back into the local economy when it's at its greatest need, and so we adopted a philosophy of buying local and hiring local whenever possible to put money book into the local community. in many cases, no additional costs, and sometimes a savings because it's faster, and it's right there. right now, it's mixed, but where it's worked, i think it's significant in that we can go to a local computer store, go to a local vender and print shops and buy services for people in the area that are trying to get their lives back together, and what i know from all of the things i've seen, small businesses are the most
12:52 am
vulnerable, and if they don't get work quickly, they don't survive, and i figure as best we can, if we can buy local services wherever possible, we will benefit not only the community itself, but i think ultimately speed the recovery. >> thank you. there are been some site -- title vi issues in fema on an ongoing basis. provide us with your efforts to resolve many of these issues, please. >> well, first of all, it comes back with one of the things we're looking at is a remediation going on in florida, and what we worked with the ig on this one is go back to the state to do training and pilots and provide oversight as they issue the grants for title vi compliance, and we put into the office of fraud investigations the title vi functions for
12:53 am
investigating the complaints because we felt this needs to be focused on the complaints when it came up. it's the enforcement piece of it where we have the complaints and the invest gageses to determine whether it needs to go to the ig, and then providing grant guidance and people understand the requirements and comply with that particularly in the large projects. >> thank you. can you provide the committee with some current statistics on clients and what -- complaints and what have you, say over the last two years 1234 just -- not now, just -- >> yes. >> just come back to it with us and to give us how many have been resolved, how many are ongoing, and whether or not you looked at that situation and whether or not you will
12:54 am
recommend changes of what have you going forward, and i think that would be helpful. with respect to recruitment, i couldn't let you get away without recruitment. the issue of recruitment. we are still, i guess, weekly getting deemed by constituents who are receiving letters. two questions. to what extent can other constituents expect these letters to come, but on the other hand, especially for the katrina victims, a dis disproportioned number of people have been displaced. bad addresses, things like that, and i'd like to see whether or not when letters go out and those individuals were moved to
12:55 am
houston from new orleans.. . . if not, when you do it would you very help old to people like me who have constituents getting those letters. >> yes sir, they're going to be more letters. that is an absolute that.
12:56 am
there is still a lot more to go out for recruitment. we sent a letter to the last known address some of that letter comes back what do we do? ifs staff and i will provide this in writing, is where the process for a third party to track down any additional financial records to try to locate that person. one of the concerns i know that was raised was when what the penalties of interest again and wendy referred them to treasury for collection? that is area where i don't have an exact timeline because i don't know what we do as far as how long it takes for us to go through due diligence to try to locate them. it is generally either because they are not responsive are we have exhausted our ways and locating them that they would actually be referred to treasury to see if they could regroup there. and you sent a letter to them their first step is to see if they are going to appeal that or if there is a additional information lacking in the initial application that may mitigate that or they can apply for forgiveness if they don't have the financial ability. by a vast staff can we use third
12:57 am
parties to track folks down. what i don't know is what is the timeframe we go before we would say we are unable to serve this letter or are not getting a response that we go to treasury and start incurring interest and penalties. >> thank you. i appreciated by the couple of questions and then we will finish. thanks for your patience. with regard to mitigation i know you believe in that strongly, but i believe and that is why i filed my bill, to encourage businesses and residential owners to rebuild, medicaid -- mitigate of course. but i feel that maybe the federal government is just encouraging folks and this is all we have, the authority we have come is to basically rebuild the way it was before instead of building stronger, and better. that way come the holdings and structures are more resilient.
12:58 am
a comment on that, how we can improve things with regard to mitigation? >> i have found both the estate and the steam administrator that we put a lot of emphasis on the stafford act. it is a section number and doesn't mean anything to anybody else but there is part of the stafford act this is if you have damages and we are going to give you money to repair it, we also need to look at doesn't make sense to build it back better, to reduce future damages? under that section would look at things such as the cost benefit analysis that says, we realized the building code may be for why -- 110-mile an hour winds but if we build this roof back to 130 or 140 because it is a public safety building, and that building survives next time is that not a good investment? this is money that is tied to the actual damages. we have another part of a program called section 404 which
12:59 am
provides an overall percentage of funds to the state after mitigation that doesn't have to necessarily be tied to damage properties which may allow them to mitigate other threats and particularly with some of the flooding we have seen. we know many states and local communities people can't hit those additional funds to reduce local flood lost. we have seen a lot of areas where they have done things such as buyouts than previously -- even though they were seeing record floods we have seen elevations work. we have seen safe rooms work. again it is one of those areas that is important but the problem with these programs are they are always after we have had a disaster. i think the greater mitigation actually comes back to states that are willing to develop and implement as we did in florida a building code appropriate for the hazard and the terminus different set nate and homes built by are today unified building code and the performance in the 04 and 05 hurricanes five hurricanes was so dramatic. you could literally fly over the
1:00 am
neighborhoods and see what was standing in what was damage. i put a lot of emphasis on if we are going to spend federal tax dollars to spend something build a back better. example was in charlotte county. they lost seven fire stations in the building code required them to be built back for the win has this but the reality is they got hit with a category 4 hurricane and i said it doesn't make sense we we run state public safety buildings and only build them ' code. we need to go code less so they survive the next hurricanes of the fire crews aren't losing the equipment and the stations aren't there to respond in the aftermath. we are very support of the can continuing that process redd financial sense. >> exactly, makes financial sense as well. one last question. began, the camera requires fema to develop and implement a training program on the prevention of the waste, fraud and abuse of federal disaster relief assistance. comment on that in what is the status of that program? >> we have been breaking -- one
1:01 am
of the areas we focused on was through our chief procurement office as well as looking at overall training for folks to recognize in our natural processing centers where people call then, there says we take to try to roll out bogus addresses and things like that to minimize that and also thinks to look for that would raise suspicion. where we do find emphasis of fraud we referred those for investigation and we referred to the ig but i think what we have been we have been trying to do is convince people we can be fast and not have the kind of abuse to the system we saw in previous disasters but that means you have to change how you look at things and build this as an affront. you can't build it at the end and captured or gore most recent audit that we got on our -- katrina was an outlier because it was an extraordinary large storm double-digit down to less
1:02 am
than one percentage point error. but we continue to look at this, how we minimized air raid without making an undue burden on people applying for assistance but also look at everything from our contracts and how we do our business and how we have proceed to do our business and we would be happy to provide you an update. we have had a request of what all these activities are and how we are doing that. >> thank you very much and that will conclude the hearing. want to thank you for your testaments today entangle the members further questions. members of the subcommittee may have some additional questions for you and i'm sure you will be able to respond in writing administrator. and we asked that he respond of course. the hearing record will be held open for 10 days. of course without objection the subcommittee stands adjourned. thank you very much. >> thanks.
1:03 am
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
1:04 am
>> in a few moments in that date on the gulf coast oil spill compensation fund from administrator kenneth feinberg. in about two hours, the federal communications commission discussion on providing funding to extend broadband service to rural areas. after that, hearing on alleged iranian covert operations.
1:05 am
>> i don't want every story to be 1800 words. >> last month jill abramson became the first woman to hold the post of executive editor at "the new york times." she believes the times is more irreplaceable than ever but also envisions a few changes. >> there is a certain lack of discipline sometimes. at point is repeated too many times in the story or making the same point where when we do and i would like to see a for idea of story lines. >> she will discuss her career, her new book and the future the time sunday night on c-span's q&a.
1:06 am
>> ahead of the gulf coast oil spill compensation fund says new guidelines will be issued soon to allow additional aid for louisiana's shrimpers. kenneth feinberg testified before the house natural resources committee for two hours about the funds that was created by the energy company bp to settle claims from the deepwater horizon spill.
1:07 am
>> the committee will come to order and the chairman notes the presence of a quorum which under rule three it is to members. the committee onthe natural quo resources is meeting today to hear testimony on oversight hearing on gulf coast recovery,u president obama's bp compensation fund and how is it working? under committee rule for f the statementsi are limited chairman and the ranking member of thets committee however i ask unanimous consent any member that was to have an opening statement inserted into the record do so before the close of business today and without objection so ordered. i also know thatnt several membs i also note several members from the gulf coast that are not members of this committee have requested an opportunity to sit on this committee on the dais and ask questions during that timeframe. we have got requests from mr. bernard of alabama and mr. miller florida and mr. -- mississippi mr. scully solis and
1:08 am
in ms. jackson-lee of texas and without objection, those members will be able to sit on the dais and ask questions at the appropriate time. without objection so ordered. i will now recognize myself for my opening statement and hopefully the ranking member will be here in a very timely manner and i am sure that his staff is frankly e-mailing him right now on that regard. nearly a year and a half ago president obama call bp to the white house for a meeting that resulted in the president personally announcing an agreement to establish a 20 billion-dollar presidential bp compensation fund. at the time the president assured those affected by the deepwater horizon disaster and oil spill that legitimate damages would be paid in a quote quickly, fairly and transparently last goodwin president obama announced the appointment of mr. ken feinberg is administrator of the compensation fund there was no
1:09 am
doubt mr. feinberg at a difficult task ahead. the impact to the gulf's local economy as well as the environment was very real and there are certainly many moving pieces involved in evaluating real damage to victims filing claims. to date, nearly 1 million claims have been filed by over 500,000 claimants while roughly 95% of all the claims have been processed. process demeans rejected, accepted or turned back to the claimant for more information. process does not mean age. of the over half a million claimants that have filed claims with the gulf close -- coase claims facility a little over 200,000 have been paid, or around 39% and quite frankly i have heard from many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the gulf states that the numbers simply unacceptable to the people whose livelihoods was disrupted by this disaster.
1:10 am
during the aftermath of the deepwater horizon we constantly heard from president obama and bp, from president obama, that bp would be held fully responsible for the damages in the gulf. yet that does not appear to be the case with the claims filed with the compensation fund. under the terms of the agreement agreed to and announced at the white house, bp appears to have no responsibility further than simply writing a check. in president obama announced the creation of the compensation fund he accepted bp's $20 billion, held a press conference in exempted the company of responsibility to make certain goal families and small businesses remain whole. in announcing this fund, the president specifically heralded that it was an independent body, countable of if no one am the sole responsibility of mr. feinberg. however, the congress has an obligation to ensure that this
1:11 am
fund is operating properly and fairly so that the people in the gulf remain whole for the harm caused to them and that the economy of the gulf is to get back up and running again. it is not absolutely clear if the fund is actually under the jurisdiction of this or any other congressional committee, and i is chairman appreciate your willingness of mr. feinberg to, and to sit before this committee today. today there is a large hole in proper oversight and accountability to ensure legitimate claims are getting the attention they deserve, and that the process of the ministry of payments is conducted in a timely manner. there is an appropriate effort in congress to direct an open transparent funds and i certainly hope and expect the fund will comply. and it can be expected the committee will continue to to properly conduct oversight into the process, payments and operations of the fund in order to ensure that there is a
1:12 am
transparent and fair pay system. so this hearing than as an opportunity to peer into that process that for the most part has flown under the radar of proper public oversight. we are pleased to have mr. feinberg as our witness and i look forward to hearing his comments and discover if there's anything congress can do to help make his job easier and get deserving legitimate claimants their due compensation. and with that i yield to the distinguished ranking member mr. markey. >> thank you mr. chairman very much. the focus of today's hearing is to examine compensation fund set up for the residents of the gulf coast who were harmed by the bp spill. however, we addressed that question, think it would be instructive to consider what doesn't work when it comes to conference saving people affected by an oil spill. the 1989 exxon valdez ran aground in prince william sound alaska. a ruptured single-hulled tankers
1:13 am
belched up to 750,000 barrels of oil into the frigid waters, killing wildlife and harming the fishing industry. for the citizens of alaska who live near this bill, the event itself was just the first part of an ongoing nightmare. commercial fishing businesses shuttered, recreation and tourism dollars were lost. exxon meanwhile immediately entered into a position of aggressive litigation rather than financial mitigation for the people affected. exxon bought the initial 5 billion-dollar judgment by alaska's courts for years all the way to the united states supreme court. in 2008 nearly two decades after the spill the supreme court finally held exxon accountable for about $500 million in punitive damages to the victims and an additional 500 billion of interest on those damages. the litigation went on for so long that nearly 20% of the
1:14 am
32,000 victims seeking compensation had passed away before the final ruling against exxon. and to top it all off, the first credit default swap ever created stemmed out of the exxon valdez spill. jpmorgan, chase bankers created the now infamous financial mechanism to hedge their own viability after staking nearly $5 billion in credit to exxon to cover the company's potential payouts. subsequent credit default swaps went on to play a critical role in igniting the financial crisis of 2008. now let's take a look at the bp compensation fund. within two months of the start of this the spill the president obama secured a commitment from bp to set aside $20 billion to begin immediately calm and saving the american people and businesses affected by the spill. ken feinberg manage the victim funds following the 9/11 attacks and the virginia tech shootings and was asked to take charge of the fund and he was given
1:15 am
complete independence to run it. i late august of last year mr. feinberg works epping claims ensign paying for lost wages and other economic impacts. through this fund people were compensated in timeframes closer to days rather than decades. the exxon valdez led to the invention of the credit default swaps but with the bp compensation fund, the only question is how quickly could this -- mr. feinberg find a way to deal with these issues? unfortunately, there were some who said that this fund accounted to a chicago style shakedown politics but in a difficult time in our nation's history when an oil rig sank to the bottom of the ocean and oil washed up on our shores, this fund kept families and businesses afloat. more than 200,000 residents and
1:16 am
businesses have been paid roughly $5.5 billion so far this year. thousands of new claims are still coming in every week as people see their neighbors being made whole. i've been quite critical of bp for many things associated with the spill but here i believe the company did the right thing. and i really would like to thanked the work done by ken feinberg. i think it is a model for how tragedies basically bring out the best in people and mr. feinberg you demonstrated that as you did in creating the climate that brought out the best and the people in the gulf of mexico and trying to resolve these issues as well. finally i would like to thanked the chairman for scheduling the additional day of testimony that i and my democratic fellow members on the committee requested on the bp spill and the governments joined in investigative team report the
1:17 am
minority has requested that the company invite the ceos of the companies involved in the deepwater horizon disaster, bp halliburton transocean and cameron. it is up -- we received testimony from the top executives from these companies is this committee evaluate the findings and recommendations in the governments reported and i thank you for working with us mr. chair. >> i thank the gentleman for his opening statement and we have only one witness today. we have mr. ken feinberg here and mr. feinberg you are the ministry of the gulf coast claims facility as both of us noted. you have a very difficult task and we look forward to your testimony. you have been here before and you know it works about the same way. your full statement will appear in the record but if you could hold your oral arguments to five minutes, we will probably have votes before then but the green light means you are doing fine in the yellow light means you have one minute and the red
1:18 am
light means -- b. mr. chairman and i thanked the ranking minority. i very much appreciate the invitation. it took me about two seconds to agree to appear. i think it is important that these issues be explored by congress and by this committee. it is about my sixth visit to the house and senate i'm glad to be here to talk about the fund. let me give a few statistics which i think are very telling. in the 14 months we have administered this fund we have received just about 1 million claims from 50 states and 38 foreign countries. build it and they will calm. there are some very creative claims. we have processed 95%. you are correct mr. chairman, not paid that we have -- process, we are current in processing 95% of the claims. it takes the initial contact to
1:19 am
the claimant about 10 days to two weeks in almost all cases. we have distributed over 5.5 lien dollars if you include outstanding offers we are waiting to hear from claimants it is closer to $6 billion in just over one year. we have paid over 200,000 people and we have honored 380,000 claims from all over the gulf of mexico. as evidence of the success of this program, we received still every week over 2000 claims per week, still rolling into the gulf coast claims facility. this on average demonstrates i think there is a lot of support in the gulf by residents who see that the program is working and are filing claims. in the first three months, and
1:20 am
this is important, we paid over $2.5 billion in interim emergency claims, no release required, no waiver of any rights against -- a gift. where the claimant receive compensation and in return could sue, could come back to the fund again and again. this was in the first three months during the critical emergency period. since then we have paid another $3 billion to claimants in the form of quick payments, interim payments, final payments. we get the claimant a choice. 130,000 people have chosen a quick payments. 63,000 people a final payment, 30,000 interim payment with no obligation and they can keep coming back as long as they can document the damage. any praise about this program or any criticism about this program
1:21 am
really should he directed at me and me alone. the administration has largely taken a complete hands-off attitude as the ranking member points out. bp has in no way interfered with my processing of these claims. i am out there on a limb and if it works, thank you and if it fails, i would be at the brunt of that criticism. the claims not only in terms of of -- but in terms of complexity are apparently thing to anybody who examines the program. now why don't we pay every claim? there is an absence of documentation with many claims. nevermind no tax returns, no much of anything. we receive thousands of claims mr. chairman with no proof, just a request to be paid. sometimes claims come in from massachusetts or minnesota or
1:22 am
sweden where there is simply no eligibility, i don't care what people attached. they are simply so far removed from the spill that the claim is to tangential. we cannot pay by agreement when we did not made an agreement between the administration and bp. we can't pay government claims. i've no jurisdiction over government claims. unfortunately i can't pay moratorium claims. now this is unfortunate. we have got 1600 moratorium claims. i have to send them to a special moratorium in no new orleans set up by bp. i've nothing to do with that and it is unfortunate but i can't pay those claims. in terms of transparency, 1500 people unhappy with my decisions either as to eligibility or damage, have gone to the united states coast guard under the oil pollution control act and asked the coast guard to review my claim and make an independent determination. in every single case, everyone,
1:23 am
the coast guard has agreed with my determination, so i think we are doing something right. in conclusion, the program is not perfect. congressman bonner is here, my most constructive admired clinic and congressman bonner knows better than most the program is not perfect. we are doing our best. my final point and i'm done, want to reiterate what congressman markey said. there has never been a program like the gulf coast claims facility. i know in my experience of no example. president bush did get the 9/11 victim compensation fund enacted to his credit, but that was public taxpayer money. this is the only program i know of in history where an administration succeeded in convincing a corporation to admit wrongdoing and put out $20 billion. it isn't perfect but i think
1:24 am
overall we are doing our job, we are delivering on the president's promise and i'm proud to be here today. >> thank you very much mr. fienberg for your testimony and now we will try to get through these questions here. i just have a couple of them and you alluded to the fact that, alluded to the fact that i just want to make sure there has been no oversight from the white house at any time since the june 16 when this fund was created and so forth. is that correct? >> that is largely correct if you say the white house. the department of justice monitors what i'm doing i am doing just like bp monsters it that often has suggestions like an independent audits but there is no oversight as to how i decide individual claims that appear before me for processing. >> in that regard and this is probably them more speculation,
1:25 am
but it would be interesting to hear what the responses. in hindsight and since hindsight is 2020 and he said this is a unique fund, do you think, let's hope we don't have to go through this again as another disaster but his is a proper model? >> that is for policymakers to decide. i would say that at least with the gulf coast claims facility mr. chairman, the united states coast guard is at least there under the federal oil pollution control act to review any one of my claims determinations. but i think it is relative, this congress 10 years ago you will recall when it enacted the 9/11 victim compensation fund and we enacted it six months ago during the lame-duck session expressly prohibiting any oversight without fund. expressly, said you cannot go to the board to review 9/11 determination so everything is relevant but i must say it is
1:26 am
problematic when one person is delegated this type of authority with limited oversight so why share your concern but i leave that to the policymaker. >> we are have a debate in this country on whether the definition of a dictator is and maybe this falls under that category. you mentioned the doj and part of that interaction has been an audit. when can we expect to have the results of that audit that you have agreed to be made public to us? >> that independent audit timing should be directed to the department. the department, not the gulf coast claims facility is going to determine who that auditor should be and how quickly that process will begin, but i will say one thing. you can't win on this independent audit. i know that on the one hand, there is a request for members of congress and others to get that audit going. correct, i will come the audit. we should do it as fast as possible.
1:27 am
on the other hand, as many of you know there are interest groups, elected officials in the gulf, lawyers, organizations, all clamoring for some input into the nature of the audit, the scope of the audit, and much of that input has just arrived at the department of justice this month. so on the one hand, speed and on the other hand a demand on the part of interest groups to participate. i think the department is moving as fast as they can considering it doesn't want to be accused of delay and on the other hand and what doesn't want to be accused of high handedness i think that is something not to be addressed. >> when exactly was the audit requested? >> was at july of this your or last year? >> occo now, this year. i think the audit was requested for the first time i think around august of a few months ago. >> okay, good. thank you very much and i
1:28 am
recognize the ranking member. >> thank you very much. mr. fienberg, can you briefly lay out for us what's what the situation is with people who live decided that they would rather litigate than move through the compensation fund? >> everybody has a right to litigate. in fact, claimants come to the fund. if they don't like what they see in a way of my determination so that determinations of the gccf they have a voluntary choice to opt out and head to court through the united states coast guard after the coast guard reviews as they want. they ultimately have a right to go to court. now, the first trial, the first trial arising out of the explosion is scheduled for february of 2011 -- 2012. by that time, i will have already, the gccf would have
1:29 am
distributed in the vicinity slightly over $6 billion, and i must say a first trial in february of 2012 is miraculous. i think that what the judge has done in new orleans and what the lawyers have done in accelerating the trial schedule is a real tribute to them frankly. they pulled it off. still, implicit and congressman markey's question, we have between the explosion and the date of this first trial we will have distributed over $6 billion. >> so how long in contrast to going to court and of the first case doesn't begin until february of next year, how long does it take for it to work through the process with you? >> on average, the claimant gets an initial determination, a response from us within two weeks. 10 days to 14 days. it wasn't like that at the beginning. as congressman bonner will i'm
1:30 am
sure will remind me but we have greatly accelerated this process so it claimant has the file. it seems in order, we can cut you a check, here are your options, we need more information, but we have greatly shortened the time for an initial contact with the claimant. >> okay, so earlier this week abc news returned to the gulf of mexico to interview shrimpers affected by the vp oil spill. when asked about experiencing the
1:31 am
have to compensation under the fund's? >> assuming the shrimper or any other fishman can give us the documentation we need those shrimpers and other fishermen will be paid. they will have three options. one of those options is a hedge against the future. we had better continue to take an interim payment. we will document our current quarterly damage, but we want to keep coming back. 30,000 people have taken that option. with the shrimper or anybody else wants a final payment, for what we think will be future damage, as best we can surmise that the gccf, that is an option also. is strictly up to the shrimper. i want to say one other thing congressman markey. i think we have to do better by the shrimpers. i was in new orleans last week and we are now reviewing ways ts make the program more generous for the shrimping industry in louisiana in particular. >> okay, so the indications are
1:32 am
that this is a real road catastrophe hitting the shrimpers downis there. and, it seems to be related tosi the spill. now if this continues next yeard the year after, what happens to shrimpers? year, the year after, what happens to the shrimpers? out many times can they come back in order to be compensated for what could be damaged that goes on for years? >> gccf by agreement isn't around for years and years and years. it expires automatically in august of 2013. a shrimper, a shrimp company are an individual shrimp company can decide, i am uncertain. it seems that it is not going to come back, as you put it. a shrimper can decide to file interim claims, take a check from the gccf, wave no rights,
1:33 am
keep coming back until the shrimper either has a sense that it is okay now or we have want a final payment, or the shrimper can take a final payment, or until the program expires in the shrimper can of course go to court if the program isn't extended. >> mr. chairman, mr. fienberg is from boston massachusetts, the home of rocky marciano and while he doesn't shy away from a fight mr. fienberg, he actually tries his best to find a peaceful resolution or every one of the issues that he has been confronted with not just here but in the 9/11 fund in all of the other very tough situations that he has been tasked with trying to resolve. >> marciano was 49-0 so it sounds like he didn't back away from a faulty there. ivan invites we may have vote as early as 10:15 and so that being the case, just to figure out how
1:34 am
we will do it, we will recess and then come back after, immediately after the last series of votes. mr. fienberg has to leave by noon, but i'm advised we can have boats as early as 10:15 so with that i recognize mr. lamborn. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you for the work you are doing. i'm not from a gulf coast state and i know they have some burning questions. just a procedural question mr. fienberg, and to to to stand for it to their testimonial claim determinations are made without interference from from the or bp. i know the department of justice has sent several letters making suggestions on the administration of the fund but does this mean the white house is not contacted you once about the fund since president obama announced this creation last june? >> that as greg. >> and as a is the follow-up would eat do with suggestions when people send them to you such as from the department of justice or from whomever? >> we take, we take very seriously any suggestions from
1:35 am
the department of justice, from members of congress, from interested citizens. we have made changes. based on constructive criticism. it is always constructive. we welcome it, and we do our best in this difficult assignment to move the process forward and improve its day to day today. >> thank you. mr. chairman i yield back. >> mr. holt is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman, and thank you pfister find burke and i appreciate mr. markey for clarifying that you are from massachusetts. who would have guessed? [laughter] and i thank you for doing work that i'm sure many days seems thankless and so, we have heard from many that the six-month drilling moratorium and economic
1:36 am
impact was worse than the impact of this bill itself. but mr. chairman i would like to introduce in the record a letter from the baton rouge area foundation, which administered the 100 million-dollar oil rig workers assistance fund over which mr. fienberg i believe has no control, no responsibility and no direct association. i would like to introduce this to the record. the oil rig workers assistance fund was set up as you will recall to help individuals who worked on the deep water rigs that might have been affected by the moratorium and experienced financial losses. to receive the assistance under that baton rouge fund, the rig workers had to submit some simple documentation, their w-2 forms, pay stubs, unemployment forms forms and so forth. at the time of the moratorium, the fund expected that maybe
1:37 am
9000 workers from the deep water rigs would apply for financial assistance. in reality it was 357. 357 applications were completed by the rig workers seeking financial assistance or a total of $5.3 million in financial assistance. you know, i am not saying that the oil rig workers financial losses are unimportant, i am just saying that it doesn't appear that they are anything like the losses that mr. markey and others were documenting in the fishing industry and the other associated industries. because over 90 million from the fund was still available, the funds eligibility was expanded to individuals who were indirectly affected, or might have been affected by the moratorium's, support vessels,
1:38 am
those who transport food or supply ice or supplies or whatever it is and during this round an additional 428 applications for financial assistance were completed. so, if we just look at the numbers people who have applied to mr. fienberg and people who apply to the baton rouge area foundation, it looks pretty clear that the effects of the oil oil spill on tourism, on fisheries, are well, greater than the effect on the oil industry. >> i think you are characterizing it fairly congressman. the problem is i don't know how that foundation in louisiana is treating not rig workers that these other vendors. i have got 1600 claims that i am sending to that foundation in
1:39 am
new orleans, and it is not clear to me that the foundation is honoring all of those moratorium claims. somebody should be honoring those claims, and i hope you are right that the foundation is more receptive to claims that are prohibited from paying, but i'm not sure that foundation is doing as well as it should with all those types of moratorium claims. i just don't know the answer. >> real. mr. landry just a moment. is there something we should be doing to see whether that foundation -- i realize it's not a government foundation and is not a government institution. is there something we should be doing to see that they are giving sufficient attention to people who might be herding? >> you might inquire and find out as you are with the gulf coast claims facility just exactly what the rules are, what the eligibility criteria are. i know is i'm hearing from
1:40 am
moratorium businesses impacted by the moratorium, -- >> mr. chairman would you care to join me in a letter asking for that information? i realize we can't demand it. i suppose we could. >> we are going to have a lot of questions that have come out of this hearing i suspect, and i will say this right now instead of at the end of the committee, we will continue to have oversight into this and i am more than happy to work with the gentleman. >> just sounds as if the effect really has been on these other industries. i am sorry mr. landry. i intended to get to you but i see my time has expired. >> the time has expired. i recognize the gentleman from louisiana. >> thank you is her fienberg and appreciate your willingness to take either the credit or discredit, whichever. that is a model for us here in washington. we generally have it 50% right here. we accept the credit but not the discredit, so we thank you serve
1:41 am
for being willing to take the heat on that. just a couple of quick questions before i get into something deeper. do you have or will you have a metric for satisfaction among people compensated? >> i have said from day one as with is with a 9/11 victim compensation fund, i would hope that at the end of this program at least 90% of all eligible individuals and businesses opt into the program. i think that is sort of an objective measurement that i've used i have used over the years and other contexts. >> but i mean will you have a questionnaire or a survey? i mean obviously somebody might agree to something but not be satisfied. do you have any way of measuring that? >> maybe we should measure that. i'm pretty confident that people who accept compensation aren't satisfied. i think that is human nature. >> i would ask that you consider that again. is sounding like to me that there may be money left over at the end of the day, and that
1:42 am
might be reason to go back and reopen just a little bit some of these cases. you mentioned fraud. is there any prosecution or do you plan to prosecute people who provide fraudulent claims? >> there certainly is and it has been pretty effective. we have received out of 1 million claims, about 10,000 claims that we think are fraudulent. we have sent after we do an internal investigation with our anti-fraud team, if it still appears fraudulent we send it to the department of justice in the criminal division, lanny brewer. they have been fabulous were king with u.s. attorneys in the gulf. they have indicted people. there've been guilty pleas. there've been convictions i believe and they think fraud is an ever-present concern. nothing will undercut the credibility of this program. >> thank you, sir. what i want to turn to in my remaining time is you may well
1:43 am
be aware that louisiana has been the biggest oyster production state in the union. 40% of the total yield has been in louisiana. washington state is now taking this because it appears that it wasn't this bill itself but the downstreaming of freshwater that has now changed this salinization of the water in the beds which which were heretofore perfect for growing oysters. as i understand that there is a multiyear rebuilding of that. you have to recede the beds and i'm not sure if i have all the terminology correct. can you kind of walk walked through that and see where we are. we do think they're a special issues on compensation. >> there clearly are special issues. we treat oyster separately from any other industry. oysters are different. and what we have decided is that an oyster claim, if somebody wants interim damage and can
1:44 am
show their media damage we will pay it. if somebody wants a final payment, if someone says to us we are filing a claim and we want a final payment and we will be gone, we give them four times their 2010 damage. and, if a claimant leases oyster beds, currently harvested his -- harvest oysters but has a lease in the beds themselves there's a special additional payment that we will make. we have tried with oysters to recognize the unique s. that you reference referenced in your questioning. >> the four times as a reference to the four years, that it takes to build these beds back up and get them in no know back. is there any -- and this may be a little bit outside your purview but is there any evidence that the sailing content of that area is
1:45 am
beginning to return to normal? >> outside of my bailiwick i think. the independent evidence at least from what i'm hearing in terms of the oysters being good to eat and encouraging people to come back to the gulf and eat those oysters, i think the predictions are pretty positive, but i agree. i agree. nobody knows for sure. it is an uncertain biology, and people who want to wait it out and see have every right to do so. >> alright. just one final question if i have time. how many lawsuits are out there or how many do you expect at the end of the day? >> i really don't know. i think, as a lehman reading the newspaper, think they're about 130,000 lawsuits that have been filed, but i haven't checked to see how many of those that have been filed havarti been paid ies and release. so i can't come i can get you that information but i don't
1:46 am
have it at my fingertips. >> thank you and i yield back mr. chair. >> thank you very much and recognize the gentleman from south carolina. >> thank you mr. chairman and mr. feinberg thank you for answering these questions here for us today. it was interesting to hear that you can't pay moratorium claims because i think that it's been a significant impact on the gulf region with the loss of businesses, the domino effect not just the oil rigs but the whole industry servicing oilfield servicing industries of welders and pipefitters and people haulers and food services and it just goes on and on as you delve into it. i do know that from talking to mr. landry the batteries foundation that pays the moratorium claims is closed now. close now. the remaining money went to another charitable organization versus paying folks that were heard in the moratorium. i don't have a unique specific questions and i want to yield the balance of my time to someone who knows this issue,
1:47 am
mr. landry from louisiana. >> mr. feinberg how are you? i am concerned about the moratorium fund because is it not correct, very short for my limited amount of time, that the fun that you administer, you cannot pay out to companies who were affected by the moratorium? is that not correct? >> that is correct. >> okay so they have to go do a 100 million-dollar fund. you have a 20 billion-dollar fund they think and i'm going to visit with you because i don't have a lot of time but i will tell you that is a disaster as well. the problem i'm having, do you know how many claims were settled in regards to the shrimping industry that were paid to shrimpers who were louisiana certified commercial fishermen? >> i can probably get you that number. >> okay because the concern i have is that once you open that fund, there was a blue light
1:48 am
special on white boots down in louisiana, and to me, that allowed, that allowed people to claim that they were shrimpers that they were not shrimpers or were not traditional commercial shrimpers and of course i have heard stories where there were shrimpers i got paid very little and there are hobby and shrimpers i guess you would call them, or tourism shrimpers i got paid a lot. and to me, it is very simple. wildlife and fisheries in louisiana certified our commercial fishermen, but you all are not using that in the matrix when you all are paying out and that concerns me because it seems as though, when i go back on the ground, i continued to hear stories of people who really need this money, people who have been in the shrimping industry for generation after
1:49 am
generation that are not getting the help, but the fly-by-night people are getting a check and maybe it is not as much as the actual traditional shrimper would be eligible for, but you know, a five, 10 or $50,000 check for a guy who just puts up a troll in this boat, that is a concern of mine. can you address that? >> akin address of a couple of ways. first, we are paying commercial shrimpers, large shrimp companies, individual shrimpers, we do not discriminate against commercial shrimpers. but i want to agree with you congressman, i think that if there is one area where the gulf coast claims facility has to be more receptive and generous it is with the commercial shrimping industry in louisiana. >> okay, so you said this a second time and i appreciate that. the question is, what are you
1:50 am
going to do about it? >> here is what we are doing about it. within the next few weeks, weeks, we hope to announce rules, new rules to deal particularly with louisiana's shrimpers. i have been down to new orleans in the past few weeks to meet with the whole group of shrimpers. one of them is here today in the audience, and i'm listening cusack to the point you or make you. i hear from them which is mr. feinberg we don't regret sure thing people who are shrimpers but we are the real historical shrimping industry and the gulf and we think you are not paying sufficient attention to our -- >> let they make this suggestion in the 20 seconds i have because you are a very very bright lawyer and you have a great reputation. it is simple, go go-go to wildlife and fisheries down in louisiana. that is your client.
1:51 am
they have the records. you don't need to visit with anyone else other than those that are from louisiana, certified, commercial fishermen. i would appreciate if you took that and built that into your matrix and mr. chairman i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from arizona mr. coffman. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. researchers discovered a potentially dangerous change following this spill and one of the most abundant fish marshes of the gulf, an indicator many believe of the health of the ecosystem which may indicate the presence of a much larger problem. in fact, researchers concluded that there maybe some of the same early warning signs that we saw in the years following the exxon valdez oil spill in alaska before pink salmon suffered population, severe population declines. if in fact there are those
1:52 am
ticking environmental time bombs, it may lead to longer-term impacts on fish and result in future losses by fishermen and shrimpers. can they be compensated in the years to calm on the assumption assumption -- if this ticking clock goes off? >> that is an excellent question. we are around, the gulf coast claims facility until august of 2013. so, alleged damage between now and then caused by this oil, by the verizon explosion, people compensate. we will also -- daily weekly monitoring what the experts tell us about the impact of the spill, as you point out. so when we make a final offer in some 60,000 individuals and businesses that it accepted the final offer, we are trying to
1:53 am
factor in with the best experts tell us about the future. if somebody doesn't agree congressman with our estimation of long-term damage, they don't need to accept a final payment. 30,000 people have accepted an interim payment for immediate damage and they want to wait and see as you point out, what the future holds and then they come back at that time. once august 2013 expires, there is no more gulf coast claims facility and they will have to go to bp itself. >> and so after 2013 if there are still impacts being felt or impacts that it have developed in that interim, the source of their making themselves hole in some ways would be with the company? >> or a courtroom i guess. >> one other point if i may, sir. for those people that have been
1:54 am
harmed by this spill, is new true that the documentation requirements in place to receive compensation from the claims fund are much more inclusive than it would be in a court proceeding? when you say inclusive, think we are much more liberal and much more generous in recognizing a valid claim than would be the case in court but that could be argued i suppose. i'm confident that we obtain claims on a record that is much less rigorous than would be required in a courtroom. >> i appreciate it. you back. >> the gentleman yields back. mr. flores from texas. >> mr. feinberg thain for joining us today. i'm going to yield the first four minutes to mr. landry and ask him -- nevermind i'm not going to yield to him. in any event, i want to thank you for your candor in the buck stops here statements that you made. that is in the words of mr. fleming, refreshing here
1:55 am
around washington d.c.. i have a couple of questions. i noticed in going to the statistics, the metrics you included in your testimony, that there are 17,000 claims that were all for final settlements that were offered but were not accepted. what happens with those and can you tell me roughly, does that mean that the offer he did not accept them or you rejected them? what does that mean? >> most of the 17,000 final claims that were not accepted, they have 90 days to make a decision. i will bet you the great bulk of those 17,000 claims are within the 90 days period and the claimant hasn't decided yet whether to accept the final offer or not. if they don't want the final offer, they don't have to take it. they can take in lieu of that, and interim payment for their immediate damage and come back and every quarter and seek additional compensation. ultimately, congressman, if they
1:56 am
just can't get satisfaction, they ultimately always have the right eventually to get to court and file a lawsuit as if the gccf had never been established. >> how many of the 17,000 have actually gone to litigation. >> very few. i know that about 1500 individuals were dissatisfied with what we decided and went to the coast guard. the coast guard independently reaffirmed that we had done. now how many of those people who didn't get satisfaction from the coast guard then went on to file a lawsuit i do not know the answer to that. >> it looks like a process is working. 1400 claims that folks didn't like when the coast guard upheld so it looks like you are doing all right. i'm going to yield the balance of my time to mr. landry. >> thank you. i think this is important because it has come up twice. my question to you is, if the
1:57 am
claim process is dragged out, there is a prescriptive period by which those claimants would have to file a suit in federal court against bp if that is correct. >> yes but i think that prescriptive period is not a barrier. i think bennie people have made that filing in court. >> how would they? are you saying that there are people who let the made the application and still filed? >> i think there are many people, many thousands of people who f. filed with the gccf and filed with the court as well. >> wind you believe that prescriptive period actually ends? in louisiana that would be a tort claim, is that correct? >> again the statute of limitations i don't know what the period period is in louisiana. >> in louisiana it would be one year but my question to you is in your legal analysis, with that period have expired already because -- >> no.
1:58 am
anyone who presents their claim i think under the oil pollution control act and i'm not an expert, but i think ultimately they preserve their right to file a claim in federal court. >> and so the period when they come to you in the fund, q. say give say that the prescriptive period is the timing is suspended? >> either suspended or extended so that they are not going to be precluded from filing but again i want to emphasize i'm not an expert in how you litigate federal oil pollution cases. >> mr. chairman toomey that is the biggest concern is that there are people out there that as they try to navigate their way through the complex legal system and what i think is somewhat of a complex application to the bp funded mr. feinberg administers is that time is moving against them and i would hate to see that at the end of the day, and i know mr. feinberg would not set up a system by which claimants would
1:59 am
or just drag on and on and on to the point where we get to the point where they lose their right to court, but only because they have done what he and bp and the a lot of us have asked through that process. so that is a concern mr. chairman. i yield back. >> you have 22 seconds. >> i yield the balance of my time. >> next when the gavel dropped we had a nonmember the committee here and i'm going to recognize him, mr. bonner, for five minutes. >> thank you chairman for allowing me to be a member of the committee. i voice wanted to be and i'm glad to fulfill that promise today. for the record, as has been noted i've had an opportunity to have a lot of experience with mr. feinberg and, while there has been effusive trays and at times even sympathy for the task he has been assigned, i would provide everyone that

110 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on